Jean to tap into All Black psyche
Thu, 28 Nov 2013 06:54
The time that I have spent in his company I have enjoyed
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers this week gets a rare opportunity to tap into the All Black psyche and see what makes his arch rival tick.
The Bok skipper, who will captain the Barbarians team against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday, spoke of the honour of "getting an invite" and the "honour" of leading the world's most famous 'club' team out onto the field.
However, there is something far more valuable in a game that will feature six Boks in the starting XV and another two on the bench.
They get to spend a week in the company of a man that has kept New Zealand at the top of the world rankings for the last four years - the past two as head coach of the All Blacks.
De Villiers admitted he hopes to learn from New Zealand mentor Steve Hansen in the build-up to the game.
"I have never worked with him prior to this [game]," De Villiers said of having Hansen coaching the BaaBaas this week.
"We have obviously played against him and his team [the All Blacks] a lot in the past," the Bok skipper said of a year that saw South Africa win 10 of their 12 Tests (for an 83.3 percent winning record) - their only defeats being two Rigby Championship clashes against the All Blacks.
"He [Hansen] has showed as a coach that he is more than capable of putting good structures in place and coaching a team to be able to get good results and win," De Villiers said.
"He has only lost one Test [against England in November 2012] as head coach of New Zealand, which I think is quite a remarkable record over a two-year period.
"He seems to get the best out of his players.
"Hopefully he can do the same for us [the BaaBaas] this week.
"Certainly the time that I have spent in his company I have enjoyed and hopefully I can learn a lot from him."
The Bok skipper will lead what he termed a "strong" Barbarians squad - which features eight South Africans, seven New Zealanders, a few of Argentineans, a Samoan and an Irishman.
"We have a lot of young guys who have proven themselves in Test rugby this year," he said, adding: "[We have] exciting backline players and also forwards that can bring the physicality.
"I am very excited about this [game] and [it is] a great honour to captain this side.
"The great thing about playing for the Barbarians, it is only by invite and a lot of players never get that invite, so I am happy to have received man and to play my second game for the BaaBaas."
While many pundits have queried the validity of the BaaBaas as a team, in the professional era, De Villiers said this 'club' still offers something that the modern game has lost.
"It is such a special week when you do get the invite [to play for the BaaBaas]," the Bok skipper said, adding: "In the professional era, I think that the friendship part of rugby has been lost in a way, in that you play on weekends, play it hard for 80 minutes and there is no real time post-game to socialise anymore with the opposition.
"This gives you the platform to do that, to get to know the guys off the field, the guys that you usually smash every week.
"Now you can sit down, have a drink together and talk about smashing each other.
"Rugby is very unique in that guys can go from playing hard on the field, but once the final blows the guys can come off and be friends again.
"Hopefully we can make friends this week that can last the rest of our lives."
* With thanks to the BaaBaas team sponsor, Killik
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