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'We are making it a bit boring': Former Bok coach's gripe with current approach

By Sam Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Springboks head coach Peter de Villiers has offered his thoughts on who should play No 10 for South Africa heading into the World Cup but believes the big problem is in the midfield.

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De Villiers was pleased to see Mannie Libbok join the squad alongside Damian Willemse as the two flyhalves for the final stretch of the season but said it doesn’t matter who starts as the Springboks ‘can’t attack much’ from the midfield.

He said no team will have a problem stopping the Springboks with the way they are using the backs currently, likening inside centre Damian De Allende to a blindside flanker.

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“It depends on how they want to play for seven games who plays [at 10], although with those centres though I don’t think we can attack much,” De Villers told The Rugby Pod.

“The two [10s] that we have there now, Mannie and Damian, can take us a long way.

“What they do need is some exciting inside backs to get the best out of them.

“If Mannie plays at 10, I don’t think any team will have a problem to stop the Boks because the 12 next to him, won’t be able to catch up with him.

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“De Allende, the big No 6.”

The former Boks coach elaborated on his position, explaining that he has nothing against De Allende but that a creative player should be in the position.

A large part of the Springboks current game has been to use De Allende as a direct ball carrier with little else which the former head coach believes is ‘killing the game’.

Against England the two midfielders, De Allende and centre Jesse Kreil, completed just two passes between them with one apiece.

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“I don’t have anything against him personally. To me, your most creative players should be 9-10-12. That’s what the game was made of. We are making it a bit boring,” he said.

“And then, at times the people are watching the game and giving the accolades of man of the match to some of these guys, and to me they are killing the game.

“Because now they believe that what we do is right. There is so much room for us all to improve.

“If we are only going to get to a mindset to allow the players to think and to play.’

De Villiers, who coached the Springboks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup, believed that South Africa had a good chance to repeat due to the mindset developing from other nations.

He believed a low risk approach and too much focus on the Springboks has detracted from focusing on their own game.

“Nations are respecting other teams so much, we too are gaining much respect from all the other countries,” De Villiers said.

“People will come out against us playing not to lose, instead of their old mindset of ‘do everything to win’.

“And that might count in our favour. The fact that people are already thinking about how do we stop the kicking, how are going to do this, forget about those things.

“Ask how are they [South Africa] going to stop us [as opponents].

“It’s only New Zealand at this stage you can say, this is the way they play. All the other guys, you don’t know how they play rugby anymore.”

The big risk for South Africa from De Villiers perspective was the lack of depth in the Springboks who don’t have a quality second team.

When they did run out what many described as a ‘B’ team against Wales in the second test, they suffered a 13-12 defeat, while the South Africa ‘A’ side struggled on their recent European tour losing multiple games to club sides.

“To me, I think they [South Africa] have a very good chance to go back to the World Cup and do what they do best.

“The only thing for them that I’m aware of, and fear, is that they don’t have a second team.”

 

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