Cape Town - Former national coach Peter de Villiers believes there is a weakness in New Zealand rugby which the Springboks can look to exploit in this year’s Rugby Championship.
De Villiers, who coached the Springboks between 2008 and 2011, has been keeping an eye on this year’s Super Rugby competition and he believes he has spotted a potential frailty among the Kiwi sides.
“Looking at Super Rugby, the All Blacks may be ripe for the picking in 2017 unless they improve their discipline,” De Villiers wrote via a column for Kwese Sports.
“The All Blacks were the leaders in how they handled the off-the-ball situations, the little scuffles. They never let opponents get under their skin. But in this year’s Super Rugby competition it’s been quite noticeable to see how easy they can be drawn into things off the ball that have nothing to do with the game.”
According to De Villiers, the All Blacks’ focus was impeccable during the Richie McCaw era when they often outsmarted opponents.
“That meant that a lot of the referees were sympathetic towards them, and allowed them to live on the edge and get all the 50-50 calls. The All Blacks have lots of experience, but it seems as if the game management wasn’t passed on from the old generation to the new.
“A big reason could be that the bulk of the All Blacks’ team was made up from the then very successful Crusaders team. These days the leadership of the team is distributed over a wider spectrum of the franchises, and that opens the door for divisive thinking.”
Intimidating the All Blacks and forcing them into making ill-disciplined decisions will be the way forward for opposition teams, De Villiers believes.
During his tenure as Springbok coach, De Villiers won five out of 11 Tests against the All Blacks - a better record than most Bok coaches in recent times.
In comparison, Heyneke Meyer won only one out of eight Tests against the All Blacks.
Other notable achievements for De Villiers as Bok coach was a Tri-Nations win in 2009, as well as a series win over the British and Irish Lions that same year.
De Villiers was the director of rugby at the University of the Western Cape between 2012 and 2015, but has since struggled to find work in rugby.