Peter de Villiers says the failure of 1997 will not be used as motivation ahead of the coming Lions series.
Gary Teichmann’s charges lost 2-1 in a series where they were overwhelming favourites. Although there are lessons to be learned from that failure, De Villiers believes there are better reasons to shoot for victory in 2009.
The Bok coach said you have to think of each series in isolation. There is no revenge to be gained for the defeat in 1997, or even as far back as 1974 when Willie-John McBride’s team paddled the Boks 3-0.
’1974 was a dark political time for our country, so there is no need to revisit it,’ said De Villiers. ‘We are not trying to rewrite history or rectify the past. We are trying to win the series for now and trying to leave our own mark on the game. We will not try and win it for the Boks of 1997 either. Their time has passed.’
While De Villiers said each series would be different, he did say that the current tourists wouldn’t match the heroics of McBride’s mob due to their comparatively inferior personnel.
‘The 1974 Lions had some outstanding UK players, you only get that once in a lifetime. This year’s team have some good players but no legends.’
De Villiers was unwilling to assign the Lions legend status, but said there was no chance of underestimating the tourists. The Bok coach admitted he has the greatest respect for Lions mentor Ian McGeechan, and his players will hold nothing back in their quest for glory.
‘My players know what it takes to be the best and they know what it takes to beat the best. It’s a great privilege to be part of a series like this, and we have a responsibility to our country to do our best.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Tshwane