Cape Town - Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers says he was disappointed to hear prop Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira's comments regarding his tenure as national coach.
Mtawarira has claimed in his new book, Beast, that De Villiers was out of his depth as Springbok coach when he occupied the role between 2008 and 2011.
Speaking on the Marawa Sports Worldwide show on Radio 2000 on Tuesday evening, De Villiers said he had gone out of his way to get the Zimbabwean-born Mtawarira selected for the Boks.
"If you look at how I fought to actually get him citizenship in South Africa, and how I fought to get him to be selected for this team, and how I fought for his team-mates to accept him for who he was… It's sad to listen and see this kind of stuff," De Villiers said.
"But then again, I understand it. I do understand that we allow ourselves to be controlled by either outside forces, or money, or power and all those kinds of things.
"So yes... I just hope for him to get well soon (Mtawarira is currently sidelined with injured), so that he can actually fight for a place in the World Cup (squad)."
De Villiers added that a few members of the Bok team weren't happy Mtawarira was selected.
"He was a No 8 he had some ball-sense... very quiet - you couldn't use him as part of your senior group because he had that mentality of 'submissiveness', if you can call it that, coming from Zimbabwe. They always… (think) everybody else is better than them.
"Some players weren't actually happy that he was there, but I could see something in him. I could see that there's a lot of potential that we have to fulfil. It took hard work and belief to get him there."
In an extract from the book, Mtawarira wrote: "He was a fantastic coach of the Junior Springboks, but I think at the high level he was probably lucky that a very good group of players was handed over to him."
Mtawarira was referring to the fact that De Villiers had inherited Jake White's 2007 World Cup winning team with senior players like Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger, John Smit, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen ruling the roost.
Mtawarira added: "His methods and approach didn't really work with the Springboks, and as players we had to be careful what we said to the media. What you said would get back to Peter and affect your place in the team. The media did not like Peter and thought he was a bit of a clown.
"There's no doubt that he was happy to be at the forefront of a team that could operate on its own steam. Most of the work was done by the players, with (assistant coaches) Dick (Muir) and (Gary) Gold very influential."
After a backlash over the comments, Mtawarira released a statement along with the book's publishers where they clarified the statements regarding De Villiers.
Hey guys a lot has been said/insinuated the last few days regarding my soon to be released book.— Tendai Mtawarira (@Beast_TM) June 18, 2019
Here’s a joint statement from myself and my publisher @PanMacmillanSA . Have a good evening pic.twitter.com/iTaHsKbZBD