We believe in Bok game-plan - Jean
Springbok rugby captain Jean de Villiers reiterated that his side believe in their game plan and simply need to ensure that it is executed properly when they face Australia next week in Perth.
De Villiers, speaking after the Boks' training session in Orlando, Soweto, said that while his team had come under heavy criticism since their 16-all draw with Argentina in Mendoza, they know they are a better team than they showed last Saturday and will take that step up when they face Australia next weekend.
The Boks leave for Australia on Saturday and will need to win in Perth if they are to stand any chance of mounting a challenge to the All Blacks for the Castle Rugby Championship.
But after their performance in Mendoza, De Villiers and his fellow Boks were hit with a barrage of criticism from fans who were angry with the result against the competition newcomers.
Despite all the negativity, De Villiers said there were positives from the Mendoza game, even though the Boks scraped home and needed a charge-down try to draw level with the home side.
“I think we’ve put that game behind us,” De Villiers said. “Actually looking at the game again made me feel a little bit better about it.
"Immediately after the game, I was very frustrated and disappointed, but watching it again, there were a lot of positives that came out of the game, but there was definitely things that we needed to work on.
"We started today, the most important thing for us is to put that behind us, rectify the wrongs and focus on the positives.
“Australia have also lost two in this competition and they’re also under pressure. We believe we’re a better team than the way we played in Mendoza and we’re going out to prove that next week.”
De Villiers said that criticism of his team’s game-plan was unjustified, as their execution was not spot on.
But with statistics showing that Argentina kicked more than the Boks, the Bok captain pointed out that their attack wasn’t as bad as some are making out, even though there was little penetration when they had the ball.
“Even though there has been a lot of criticism of our attack, I actually felt that we attacked nice at times. Like we said after the game, they came out firing and they got away with it at times.
"The penalties that we got we didn’t capitalise on that, and I think our standards are higher than that. The two guys who kicked, we’re used to better from them. They also owned up regarding that.
"The attack was really good at times, and we’ve definitely seen areas that we can improve on and now its getting the ball into those areas,” he explained.
De Villiers said he and his side shrugged off the criticism, especially as they knew they had not performed to expectation. All of it comes with the territory, but the Boks would not be listening to each and every opinion voiced, but rather those who added value.
While De Villiers didn’t mention any names, his barb may have been directed at former Bok coach Jake White, who laid into the Boks in a newspaper article on Thursday.
“I think with every team I’ve been involved with, once you don’t live up to the expectations, then there will be critics out there and you will be criticised. It is the way you’ve handled it.
"Never when the Boks have lost, or not played well, have the fans, media and even my parents have they gone on and said how we played. We need to be honest with each other as well,” De Villiers said, adding that the team believed in the game-plan they were playing.
“You have to believe in what we’re doing. We can take it on the chin and some of it we’ll listen to. But it’s important to believe in what you’re doing and listen to the people you believe can make a difference and can add to the success of the team.
"At the end of the day it’s the opinion of individuals and you can’t take everyone’s opinion. You have to set on a game-plan you believe you can get success from and we’ve done that. Its now just implementing and executing.
De Villiers also denied that coach Heyneke Meyer was a “dictator” as allegedly suggested by SuperSport commentator Bob Skinstad. Skinstad has denied making that statement, attributed to him by Beeld newspaper.
De Villiers said there was enough freedom in the side for players to make their voice heard if they felt they were buying into the wrong approach.
“It’s opinion. We definitely don’t feel like that. It’s a new coach trying to get across a message and a game-plan that he feels fits this team. It’s my job to relay this message to the team,” he explained.
“We’re all grown-ups and we all stand up for what we believe. If we disagree we’ll stand up and voice our opinions. I don’t think too much must be said about that.
"We believe in the coach. We believe what we’re doing is right for us and if that changes, we’ve got the freedom in the squad to voice our opinion and they will listen.”
The Boks will conclude their training in Johannesburg before leaving for Perth on Saturday.