De Villiers could stay as Bok skipper

2012-11-27 00:00

JEAN de Villiers was initially appointed as the caretaker Springbok captain but coach Heyneke Meyer now wants him to take on the job permanently.

Meyer, hit by a wave of early-season injuries to senior leaders in his squad, appointed De Villiers as captain on a temporary basis but he has told reporters that he now wants the 31-year-old centre to stay on in the job next year.

The Boks returned home yesterday with Meyer having revised his opinion of his captain, and several players in the squad, after the long international season.

“Provided Jean is able to carry on and he continues to play like he is at the moment, and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to, then I would like him to carry on as the captain next year,” Meyer said.

The Springbok coach said he had been impressed both with De Villiers’ leadership qualities and the role he has played as an ambassador for South African rugby.

But De Villiers’ improved form on the UK tour, both in defence and on the limited occasions that the Boks ran with the ball, has obviously also been a major factor in Meyer revising his opinion of his captain.

“Jean was new to me at the start of the year in the sense that I had not worked with him before. But I went with him as the leader and it has worked out really well.”

He also admitted to reporters that he had erred in selection on a number of occasions and singled out Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie as one.

The Bok coach regarded Lambie as a specialist fullback for most of the international season and had reservations about his ability as a reliable goalkicker under pressure. But, on the UK tour, Meyer fielded Lambie at flyhalf in all three Tests and he took over the goal-kicking duties.

It was a huge call to make, said Meyer.

“I had seen Lambie play well as a flyhalf in 2010 but I thought he had lost a lot of that since then and needed to improve tactically

“But then I started seeing in training that he could play a good tactical game, and against England at Twickenham he really underlined it. I thought he was brilliant in the wet conditions.

“One of the things I really like about him is that he never panics, and he is so level headed.”

But the selection which gave Meyer the most satisfaction was on the flank where he included the Bath-based Francois Louw.

“… Francois brings so much to our game and he has really been phenomenal for us this year. The good thing is that Marcell Coetzee also appears to be learning from Flo, so next season we should have two players who can both play to the ball and carry when needed to.”

Meyer said he had also been taken with Duane Vermeulen’s form at number eight, particular in the heavy UK conditions.

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