Peter de Villiers is adamant merit will determine the make up of the future Springbok team.
Certain sectors believe De Villiers was the right choice to succeed Jake White, as the former Baby Boks coach is pro-transformation. But when probed on the topic the new national coach revealed he will concentrate on picking the best available side.
“It is a great privilege to be awarded this position, but I think the fact that I’m the first black coach must end now. Everybody will have an equal chance to play. If you are good enough and you have the talent, then you have every chance of playing for your country.”
It must be realised that De Villiers could have different ideas about who the best 15 South Africans are. In a newspaper interview last year, he lauded the efforts of men like Hilton Lobberts, a player who hasn’t started much for the Bulls Currie Cup side.
While the rugby public will need to wait until May to view any big changes to the national side, De Villiers confirmed he will implement his own ideas into the tried-and-tested structures that proved so effective in White’s term.
“When Jake came into the job in 2004, he never came into a winning culture. It would be stupid of me to reinvent the wheel.
“Any birth begins in tears, it’s how you grow that matters. I intend to be very open in the way I manage things and am confident I have the right people around me to be a success.”
The question of who will lead South Africa post the World Cup was also raised. John Smit is currently playing for French club Clermont and has enjoyed a shaky start to the Top 14. De Villiers intimated the World Cup-winner needs to raise his game before reassuming the Bok captaincy.
“It all depends on him whether he makes the team or not. If he maintains good form he has the same chance as everybody else.”
Saru president Regan Hoskins said a further presidents’ council meeting will take place on the 27 March where the issue of overseas-based players will be concluded.
“We aim to resolve the issue with Sarpa,” he said. “I am confident it is already resolved, but this meeting will see the decision formalised.”
By Jon Cardinelli at Newlands