De Villiers reveals mission

South African coach Peter de Villiers has signalled his intent to lure back top Springboks who are currently playing in Europe. [more]

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South African coach Peter de Villiers has signalled his intent to lure back top Springboks who are currently playing in Europe.

De Villiers said that he was heading overseas to chat to French and English clubs about the top players returning to play for the national team.

One of them seems to be Springbok captain John Smit, who Sunday newspapers speculated was on his way back to captain the Springboks this international season.

"John and I had a good chat recently," he said.

"If we have great respect for (former All Black captain) Sean Fitzpatrick, and we have someone who has played in so many Test matches and has achieved what John has achieved, we should respect that person in the same way.

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"I am going abroad next week to try to convince some of our players to return. I want them to play in South Africa and be role models here.

"There are sponsors who are interested to help us."
De Villiers also expressed admiration for former Stormers captain Luke Watson.

"Luke is one of 150 to 200 players who will be part of the Super 14 competition. The playing field is level for everyone," he replied when he was asked how Watson would fit into his plans.

"All the pressure that is heaped on Luke’s shoulders is unfair towards him. I admire him as a player. He was a fine captain when he played under my coaching.

"I would have folded under the pressure that he experiences from the news media. Therefore, I respect him.

"He is a strong person and the question that I have is whether other players have the same strong character.

"Luke will have an opportunity, just like any other player. We will not pre-judge anyone."

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