Peter de Villiers blames Frans Steyn’s agent Gerrie Swart for the controversy surrounding the fullback’s selection.
The Springboks face Wales in Cardiff on 5 June in their first Test of the year. De Villiers has decided to include overseas-based players in the match 22, which sees Steyn selected at fullback in the starting line-up for the first time since the Tri-Nations clash against the All Blacks in Hamilton last year.
However, it was reported in Die Burger on Thursday that Steyn sent De Villiers an SMS earlier this week saying he does not want to play against Wales. It is also rumoured that the two have a strained relationship, which is behind Steyn’s withdrawal. De Villiers has denied these claims.
‘There has never been tension between Frans and I. The problem involves me and Frans’s agent Gerrie Swart,’ De Villiers told keo.co.za.
‘Gerrie has poisoned Frans’s mind by saying I don’t want him in the Springbok setup, which is far from the truth. It’s because of these lies that Frans does not want to play for the Boks.’
De Villiers said Swart was playing the middle man between him and Steyn in a deceitful way.
‘Two weeks ago, Gerrie sent me an e-mail saying on Frans’s behalf that he doesn’t want to play for the Boks. He also suggested some players I should replace Frans with. Who is he to tell me, the head coach, who to select?’
De Villiers said there has been poor communication between him and Steyn, but believes the truth will be revealed when the two parties meet in Johannesburg on Friday.
‘I haven’t heard from Frans since he left for Racing Metro after the Test in Hamilton last year. It is true that he sent me an SMS earlier this week, but it didn’t say he didn’t want to play for the Boks. He tried to get hold of me. We tried to call him back but we couldn’t get through to him after several attempts.
‘But I don’t think I should have to call Frans to find out if he wants to play for the Boks. I don’t call John Smit, I don’t call Victor Matfield, no player gets special treatment.
‘[Springbok convenor of selectors] Peter Jooste has now organised a meeting with Frans and Gerrie tomorrow [Friday]. Peter invited me along and I accepted because I want to look in Gerrie’s eyes and Frans’s eyes and see where the truth lies. I want to hear from Frans himself whether he wants to play for the Boks or not.’
When keo.co.za tried to called Swart, he was not available for comment.
By Gareth Duncan