You seldom associate Springbok and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers with unhappy bunny moments, at least not publicly.
For one thing, he tends to be a more even-tempered, glass-half-full fellow by nature, and often preferring a dollop of humour to enliven his media sound-bites.
But he earned headlines after Saturday’s 34-10 Super Rugby drubbing at the hands of the Lions in Johannesburg for his animated immediate post-game interview on television, where he even used the word “disgusting” to sum up the Cape franchise’s woeful night.
Asked by Sport24 at Tuesday’s press briefing, where the Stormers announced just one change to their starting line-up for the Newlands encounter with the Hurricanes on Friday (19:10), whether it was the angriest he has been after any game as a first-class captain, De Villiers quipped: “Was I angry?”
He then elaborated: “No, I don’t think that the angriest I’ve been … but yes, I definitely meant everything I said and I feel the same today still.
“I include myself in that – it’s a team effort and I just don’t think that performance was good enough. Sometimes you have to take responsibility for your actions and that’s what we’ve tried to do regarding that result.
“There was a minor incident in Auckland last year when I represented the national team … I was pretty angry after that one as well.”
For slightly different reasons, De Villiers was referring, of course, to French referee Romain Poite controversially sending off Bismarck du Plessis in the Boks’ tense Castle Rugby Championship encounter with the All Blacks at Eden Park.
“So I won’t say (Ellis Park on Saturday) was my angriest, but it’s certainly top five.”
He then corrected himself, to laughter: “No, make that top two.”
Did he feel the team didn’t arrive at the races mentally against the Lions, or were they simply shell-shocked by the Lions’ early blitz?
“I did feel we got a bit shell-shocked. No, from a mental and physical point of view we had no fears about (preparedness) going into that game. But 20 points down, 20 minutes in … it was game over.”
De Villiers said there was a bright side to events on the Highveld.
“You learn a lot from the individuals at times like this … in professional sport you see how people to respond to difficult situations and it will be great to see if we can get out of this one with a positive result.”
Time will tell, but coach Allister Coetzee appears to have boxed smartly by keeping alterations to a very minimum for the Hurricanes clash, despite the collective shambles a few days back.
“It’s an opportunity for the players to redeem themselves, to put up a performance and make sure we get it right this weekend,” he said.
“It’s an important game for us to get back into the competition … we need a win.”