Peter de Villiers says the Springboks are not far from clicking and that the recent loss won’t hurt their World Cup chances.
After running through the list of sick and injured players on Monday, De Villiers fielded questions about the coming Test against the All Blacks. The Boks need to win this Test to avoid their first ever Tri-Nations whitewash, and also need to to ensure that they take some momentum and confidence into the World Cup.
De Villiers said the mood in the Bok camp was good despite last Saturday’s loss to the Wallabies. While he admitted that the Test in Port Elizabeth is important, the team and management view the game as preparation for the World Cup rather than a must-win stand alone Test.
‘We have a World Cup plan,’ said de Villiers. ‘If our minds were only on Saturday we would upset our wider plans.
‘A victory would serve its purpose as part of the World Cup plan too because when you are doing your general planning you don’t plan for losses. So losing to Australia was a setback in that you can’t control a game for 80% of the match and then lose on the scoreboard, there are many reasons why but the overwhelming one is that we did not take enough chances in the first half after working so hard to create them.’
De Villiers told reporters in Port Elizabeth that everything is still on track as far as the World Cup mission is concerned. He believes they are very close to clicking despite an inconsistent showing against the Wallabies where the Boks stuttered on defence and attack.
‘A main goal we put on paper [at our planning meeting in May] is “Everybody knows, nobody guesses”, and everybody knows what is going on and that is very good. The mood I can tell you is that we are all satisfied that we are on track and that only the scoreboard stands between us and success. The guys are waiting for the big moment to come, it is overdue now.’
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has decided to leave as many as eight first-choice players in New Zealand for this particular game. De Villiers said he didn’t have a problem with this decision, as he opted to leave 23 first-choice players in South Africa when the Boks toured Australasia. He did, however, say that it was unfair that Henry didn’t receive as much criticism for the selection policy.
‘Well our South African media seem to be happy with their so-called B team, to them it is no big thing but when we went over there it was big news, people wanted to kill us, it was reiterated how stupid we are as a coaching staff, but now New Zealand do the same and it is fine. People [in South Africa] are not worried and that is more worrying than the side they brought.
‘Their side itself is full of seasoned campaigners, plenty of experience, there is never a weak New Zealand team and we are very wary of that.’