Jake White can’t escape the Luke Watson controversy, not even in Dublin.
The Irish Independent on Friday ran a half-page feature on Watson’s exclusion from the Bok squad and his father Cheeky’s role in the fight against apartheid.
They focused mainly on the fact that the WP captain was earlier this month robbed of the SA Players’ Players award when Saru demanded a recount that saw him earn the same number of votes as Kabamba Floors. Saru president Regan Hoskins then decided to give Floors the award.
White, who has been critcised for ignoring the Absa Currie Cup form of both players, again defended his selections to the Irish media.
“As much as the Currie Cup is a great window of opportunity for the talent we have, the challenge I’ve had as coach is to try and convince the South African public that a 28-year-old who’s got 50 or 60 Tests is better than a youngster coming through the ranks. But we have the psyche that if a guy has a great Currie Cup that he’s got to be a Springbok.”
The Boks lost five Tests in a row this season before finishing with two consolation wins in the Vodacom Tri-Nations — a record White blames in part on the number of injuries suffered to key players.
“I know in my heart that if I put out my best XV, with my seven best reserves on the bench, we can beat any team in the world. But I’ve never, in 34 Test matches, ever put my best XV, never mind my best 22, on the field.”
Local journalists also questioned White about South Africa’s quota system, which unofficially requires him to have five black players in the match 22. As you’d expect by now, the coach had his answer well prepared.
“We have different diversities in our country and different dynamics,” he said. “That’s part of the brief and I have to accept that. Because of the unfairness of the past, that’s the way the country has to evolve.”