Jean: Pick the best Boks
Fri, 16 Aug 2013 15:57
I think as the media do, sometimes ...
South African captain Jean de Villiers was forced to douse some flames that could have escalated into a raging controversy.
Addressing the media in Johannesburg, a day before the Springboks will take on Argentina in the opening round of the Rugby Championship in Soweto, he dismissed the notion that he wanted a 'ban' on overseas-based Boks to be selected for the national team.
De Villiers was quoted in the New Zealand media as having said South Africa should adopt New Zealand's policy of barring overseas-based players from the national team.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer named five overseas-based players in his starting 15 to face Argentina in Soweto - Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Louw and Juandre Kruger.
However, De Villiers pointed out that the interview - done with a New Zealand radio station more than a week ago - was given a very different spin by the media to what he had actually said.
"No, not at all," was De Villiers' sharp repost, when asked at the media briefing if he stands by the quotes attributed to him in the New Zealand media.
"I think as the media do, sometimes ...," the Bok skipper said, the pausing briefly to regather his thoughts.
"No I think, the reality is, when you lose a lot of players to overseas teams, that your franchises lose a lot of experience and you get weaker at times - and that is what I said," he explained, making it clear he was speaking about franchises and never suggested a ban should apply to players wanting to play for the national team while abroad.
"Super Rugby teams, and for us at the Stormers, losing a guy like Bryan Habana, Andries Bekker and such - the team will be weaker without those guys," he sad in reference to the players who departed abroad and have in the region of 100 Super Rugby caps to their credit.
"They are world class players and they have showed over the years how good they are.
"To replace them is very difficult."
He made it clear that he has no objection to them being selected for the national team while playing abroad.
"When it comes to Springbok rugby, you want to be selecting your strongest team, you want to be selecting the guys that are good enough to play for the Springboks," the skipper told the media briefing.
"That [selection] is not a decision that I have to make.
"I have made my decision to play my rugby in South Africa - playing with world class players, how can you ever say no to that?"
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