Jake White says his future is with South Africa and not England.
White told Independent Newspapers rugby writer Peter Bills that he had informed the RFU he was no longer interested in leaving South Africa. He said he had told the players he was fully behind them and the Springboks.
“I have told them I won’t be leaving, I am in with them on this. There is no chance of me leaving. And after this performance, I am doubly determined to make the Springboks successful again in time for the World Cup.”
It may, however, be all too little too late for White, who used the possibility of the RFU Director of Rugby job to get his contract extended to 2009. White’s world in the last month has come crashing down with crushing defeats to France and Australia. The Bok coach has lost his last four internationals against top five teams and in those tests his team has conceded 15 tries and scored just four.
White played his cards concerning the possibility of moving to England and the South African Rugby Union countered it by telling him to go.
Now it is White on his knees begging to see out his contract until 2007.
Bills, on tour with the Boks, quizzed White about his future after former Boks, including Frik du Preez, said White should pack his bags and go NOW.
White told Bills: “Comments like that are the ones that hurt you the most. As Springbok coach, I have been very big on standards and traditions and respected what has been achieved in the past. When you hear comments like that from someone like Frik du Preez, they are especially hurtful.”
White defended his team selections and the squad’s preparation ahead of Saturday’s 49-0 defeat against Australia.
“Our preparation was as good for this test match as it has ever been during my time in charge. And as for the team, if I chose a very different one with a lot of newer faces, people would say I was handing out Springbok blazers like sweets. You cannot win.
“I still believe what we are doing is right. But to take one detail, I think we conceded more penalties in the first half on Saturday night than we did all last season. That does worry me, because I don’t honestly know why. But the fact is, these top sides of the world are good enough, when you get it wrong, to punish you.”
White’s Boks conceded 13 penalties against the Wallabies, with half of those coming in the first half. Again, his interpretation is highly skewed as the Boks conceded as many against Scotland in Port Elizabeth and against France in Paris last year.
White said Saturday’s nightmare was new to him.
“I have never experienced anything like it in my life. I didn’t sleep at all on Saturday night. I lay there thinking about it, turning things over in my mind. What do you do about it, scream and shout at the players? Would that achieve anything?”
He then issued an ultimatum to his players.
“I don’t want to get personal about individual players. But what I will say is, every guy now has to contribute. We will learn a lot from seeing how players handle this adversity. We’ll see who is prepared to stand up and be counted this week, who will lay their bodies on the line against New Zealand on Saturday. This is a very tough school in which to learn but we’re going to learn a lot about our players by how they react to this.
“I always knew it was going to be difficult on this trip but I didn’t know it would be like that. Some players will sink, others will swim on a tour like this. All I’ll say is that if they continue like that, there is no way they can remain in the mix going forward towards the World Cup.”