Peter de Villiers must use this tour to the UK to prove his critics wrong.
Liam del Carme for the Beeld writes that the first five months of Peter de Villiers’s term as national coach have not been without controversy. In some circles, it has already been said he is not up to the task. Now he has another opportunity to prove the critics wrong.
The Springboks may have their sights set on next year’s Test series against the British and Irish Lions when they leave for their three-Test tour of Britain on Friday.
However, it is the way De Villiers approaches the immediate challenge that will determine how successful the South Africans will be against Wales, Scotland and England.
In the context of the Lions tour, the matches in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London may reveal more about the Springboks than about their hosts.
How well they do in the Test matches on three consecutive Saturdays, will depend on their physical and tactical preparedness.
The Springboks have a chance to achieve a psychological advantage before next year’s big battle. Their coach has an opportunity to show he is not out of his depth.
It could be a long tour for the team, and especially the coach, if the lessons of this year’s Tri-Nations series are not heeded.
De Villiers has been quoted as saying that the Springboks won’t play conservative rugby under his coaching. But he did add that they might have to follow a different route to achieve the required results.
The Springboks did not meet expectations in the Tri-Nations but they won’t lack confidence as they set of for the UK.
Their record victory over Australia in Johannesburg earlier this year was a step in the right direction. It should serve as the foundation for this tour.
They should also take advantage of having played under the experimental laws for longer than their opponents have done.
As far as individuals go, flyhalf Ruan Pienaar will receive most attention. The coaches and selectors hope the Sharks scrumhalf will establish himself at No 10.
He certainly has sound judgment, the ability to kick well and the attacking instincts to develop into the real McCoy. The tour could be a launching pad for his career at flyhalf.
Captain John Smit, who has been included as a tighthead prop instead of at his normal hooker position, will also be in the spotlight throughout the tour.