Peter de Villiers says the Springboks are the world’s leaders in the game and the Australasian nations are trying to imitate their tactics.
The Australasian media have been scathing in their criticism of the manner of the Boks’ three Tri-Nations victories, but at De Villiers’s first press conference since arriving in Perth on Wednesday, he hit back.
Forwards coach Gary Gold told keo.co.za earlier in the week the Boks wouldn’t change their tactics, and De Villiers was similarly unaffected by recent criticism.
‘We always said when we took over this job that South African sport should be leaders and not followers any more,’ said De Villiers of his No 1-ranked team. ‘It took us a while from isolation to up to now to come to grips that we could be leaders,’ he said.
‘For other big countries in rugby like Australia and New Zealand to try to follow us now speaks volumes of the fact we can dictate the terms of how rugby can be played.’
The Boks are unbeaten at home in the competition, but they still haven’t won the title, and hopefully De Villiers’s comments won’t prove premature.
The Bok coach also wasn’t as complimentary as the Australian commentators, who described last weekend’s Bledisloe Cup Test as the ‘greatest’ of the tournament so far.
‘There was more kicking in that game than there were in our games against any one of them,’ said De Villiers. ‘We are now determining how they are playing against each other too.’
De Villiers cited the Bulls’ success in the Super 14 as an example of how the South African sides were now accustomed to whatever laws were thrown at them, as that competition was played under the hybrid ELVs.
‘At this moment we don’t kick more, we kick more back,’ he said.
‘I think in the Super 14 we showed you guys how we can adapt to that and now with the laws changed back again we’ve shown how we adapted back to that.
‘We would like to entertain the people, [but] our obligation is first to the South Africans, and then the rest of the world.’