Crocked Boks’s ‘secret camp’

2011-07-28 00:00

WELLINGTON — The Springboks arrived in New Zealand yesterday with coach Peter de Villiers denying a South African report that 21 “so-called injured” players are in fact at a secret Rugby World Cup training camp.

“They are not training at the moment,” he said when told of the report that the 21 players were holed up in Rustenberg with Springboks’ technical director Rassie Erasmus.

“So-called is not the right word to use. They’re injured players back in South Africa and there’s a few guys going back too who are also injured,” he said.

The reigning world champions play the current top ranked All Blacks on Saturday, a week after their under-strength side were trounced 39-20 by the Wallabies in Sydney.

De Villiers said the injured players would be tested next week to see if they were fit enough to take part in South Africa’s two home Tri-Nations matches next month.

Among the key South Africans missing from the Australasian tour are Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana, while the All Blacks are likely to rest players who carried a heavy Super Rugby workload.

They include half the first choice forward pack with Keven Mealamu, Kieran Read, Brad Thorn and Owen Franks unlikely to take the field, which de Villiers said was sensible.

“I think that they [New Zealand] know how to manage the players and the workload,” he said and added that the revamped Super Rugby season made the Tri-Nations a tough challenge in a World Cup year.

“The Tri-Nations is a good thing, it’s the best preparation you can get for the World Cup because the best teams in the world are there.

“But coming off the back of a long Super 15, it might just be a bit too harsh on the players,” he said.

Meanwhile Ryan Vrede has called De Villiers a liar on the website www.keo.co.za.

Vrede is emphatic when saying that the “injured” Boks are definitely in a secret training camp in Rustenburg despite De Villiers’ assertion they are not.

Erasmus has taken charge of the team, who are running fitness and technical drills.

“A source at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Campus, a high-tech facility used by the England national team during the football World Cup in 2010, again confirmed that they [the Springboks left out of the Tri-Nations away leg] were indeed there,” said Vrede.

Although De Villiers will take on the All Blacks with a team short of experience, he is more worried about the value of the Springbok jersey for these players.

He said, “The Springbok jersey always has to be the ultimate reward for excellence.

“You have to know if you put on that jersey that you deserved it.

“And every player then has to use that opportunity to play so well that it will be impossible for another player to take it away from him.

“This group here perhaps hasn’t worked hard enough to get here and that showed in the weekend’s defeat [39-20 against the Wallabies].

“Due to the large number of players who couldn’t come on tour, we had to give guys a chance and I’m not so sure all of them understand the extent of their responsibility. The Bok jersey will never be cheapened.”

Wing Lwazi Mvovo said, “Everyone is very disappointed about what happened against the Wallabies and will learn from it. New Zealand will be tough but we will go all out and defend our country and play for everyone there.”

De Villiers will announce his team today.

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