De Villiers wants 40% gain before Lions tour

New South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has issued a warning to the 2009 British & Irish Lions by claiming his Springboks can become "40% better" than the South African team that won the World Cup last year. [more]

De Villiers wants 40% gain before Lions tour

New South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has issued a warning to the 2009 British & Irish Lions by claiming his Springboks can become "40% better" than the South African team that won the World Cup last year.

De Villiers has taken a swipe at predecessor Jake White’s Rugby World Cup winning squad by describing the current Springboks as conservative and too scared to make decisions.

“I am not very happy in terms of where we want them to be at this moment. The fact is, they were so spoon-fed, by the previous regime, that we are asking them to think a bit,” said de Villiers in the build-up to his first Test in charge against Wales on Saturday.

“It is a bit of a culture shock for them. They are scared to make decisions because they have been so spoilt.

“Everything was there, they didn’t have to decide on anything. They didn’t have to take the blame for anything and that’s the hardest part.”

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Despite White’s success in winning the Webb Ellis Trophy in , De Villiers wants to expand the Springboks’ style from the cautious approach that squeezed out the World Cup victory.France

And the new coach believes his South Africa can become 40 per cent better by the time the Lions arrive next year.

“Let’s be clear – they are all good players, but they are not the best they can be at the moment. This is what we are trying to do, to improve them,” said de Villiers, who has a year to mould his side into a team capable of beating Ian McGeechan’s Lions..

“But they have to change their mindset. They are talented but they definitely have to take more responsibility.

“In percentage terms, I believe we can get another 40 per cent out of these guys. For instance, Bryan Habana touched the ball only once in the World Cup final.

“Imagine what he might do with more possession and opportunities to make his own decisions. We will push them very hard to get that extra 40 per cent, but add that to what they already have and you can see the potential of these players and this squad.

“If they are able to do these new things, then this will be a side that will really go places. But this could take up to six months.”

The Springboks have reveled in the benefits that come with being World Cup winners brings, both on and off the field. Now de Villiers is demanding they refocus on the future – with revenge over the Lions next year for their series win in 1997 a major goal.

“If we can get their minds tuned to the game, I can be sure they will improve and succeed. What they must strive for is improving their own game and integrating that into the team,” he added

“A player is only as good as his team-mate. We don’t expect players to move mountains, but we won’t allow mediocrity.”

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