Peter de Villiers says his players are struggling for motivation ahead of the English Test.
De Villiers has made some strange utterances in his time as Bok coach, and this seems to be yet another. He has blamed the Boks’ poor performances in Britain on the amount of game-time they’ve had earlier this year, adding that the Absa Currie Cup also had a role in this.
Nevermind that the Bok coach had the opportunity to rest the players if he felt the need, just as the Australian and New Zealand players were after the Tri-Nations. A player such as Dan Carter didn’t take any part in the Kiwi domestic campaign, while the All Blacks and Wallabies aren’t blaming fatigue – and their tours contain double the amount of matches as the Boks.
As a result of all the rugby played, De Villiers believes the Boks will struggle to find motivation for this weekend’s clash at Twickenham.
“Sometimes it’s very, very difficult to motivate yourself to stand up and just go on and on and on,” he told the media. “It’s always the biggest challenge in rugby to get motivated.”
If the players are so uninspired for a Test against the Poms, the beaten World Cup-finalists, surely then it is De Villiers’s job to lift the players for one final match? He is supposed to be a good ‘man-manager’ so it will be interesting to see if the players respond to his calls ahead of the final Test of the comparatively short three-match tour.
De Villiers added that the players minds could already be on the flight departing Heathrow.
“We’re talking from the players’ point of view. These guys play around the clock against all these big nations.
“Physically they’re trained to deal with it but there’s a mental fatigue that nobody sees. They’re thinking ‘five days more and then I can go back to my family’. Fatigue is taking its toll. I think for the sake of the players I’m so glad the year’s done.
“You look where we started last year in November. The players had three weeks off and then went straight into Super 14 and then it goes on and on and on. All of these guys played Currie Cup too,” he said.
“Five days more and then it’s the end of the year. It’s going to be very difficult. I just hope they uplift themselves a little [on Saturday] to the level we expect.”
The fact that six of this squad (John Smit, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Bakkies Botha) are staying for the Barbarians’ fixture against the Wallabies on 3 December at Wembley contradicts De Villiers’s statements – they obviously feel they haven’t played too much rugby.
Surely the players should need no inspiration when pulling on the Bok jersey for a Test of this stature. However, De Villiers obviously feels they do so lets hope he can muster some motivation for the players in the build-up to the Twickenham Test.