South African Rugby Union CEO Jurie Roux has contradicted his coach Peter de Villiers by confirming the Springboks are in Rustenburg in a camp.
On Wednesday De Villiers vehemently denied this, but Roux, speaking to the media in New Zealand conceded the group of supposedly injured players where gathered at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus.
However, he moved to dismiss reports that they were working on technical and tactical issues with Springboks coaching consultant Rassie Erasmus.
‘I’m not denying that they are in Rustenburg. I’m denying the fact that there is a secret training camp,’ Roux said. ‘I have my players in a single high-performance entity being rehabilitated.
‘I am surprised that people are worried about this. I run a multi-million rand corporation and my biggest assets are my players. They are injured and I need to do something to get them ready for a World Cup.
‘You don’t send an injured player to Bali or Mauritius to have a holiday. You pull him into your high performance centre, you put him with the best doctor you can find, and you put him on a rehabilitation programme to get him ready for the World Cup. I don’t understand the conspiracy, I don’t understand the confusion.’
The decision to stage the Tri-Nations in a World Cup year, particularly in light of a significantly elongated Super Rugby campaign, has been widely criticised. In informal discussions with keo.co.za, Sanzar’s CEO Greg Peters said that in the absence of June incoming tours as well as no year-end tours South Africa, Australia and New Zealand needed the income generated from Tri-Nations Tests.
It is widely thought that the Springboks, seeking to give their key players an opportunity to rest and recuperate before the World Cup, tried to circumvent their agreement to field their best available squad in the tournament by fabricating an extensive injury list, peculiarly featuring most of what is likely to be their match 22.
De Villiers expressed his dismay at having to contest the southern hemisphere’s showpiece, but tried to remain optimistic.
‘There’s a lot of opportunities you can take from it. In an ideal world you wouldn’t want these games to be played before the World Cup because they can be detrimental with the workload that’s on the players already,’ he said.
‘But then again you look for the opportunities. New Zealand and Australia, what better preparation can you get. If a guy comes good in those games you know he can go to the World Cup and be an asset to the team.’
Asked about the possibility that New Zealand would send a weakened team to South Africa, Roux said: ‘New Zealand must do whatever is in their best interests. Whatever team they send will be an All Black team and will be treated like an All Black team…we will be happy to receive any team that they send.’