Lions’ conqueror eyes change

The man who led South Africa to series victory over the Lions looks set to wield the axe on members of his backroom staff. [more]

Lions’ conqueror eyes change

The man who led South Africa to series victory over the Lions looks set to wield the axe on members of his backroom staff.

Springbok head coach Peter de Villiers is unhappy with the attitude of members of his support team and has made it clear he intends to have them replaced.

De Villiers, who guided the Boks to a 2-1 triumph over Sir Ian McGeechan’s tourists last summer, has publicly voiced his concerns about being undermined in a typically controversial outburst.

"I am the boss of the Springbok team, and I have a support staff around me who were appointed to support me. But I feel that some of them have not been supporting me," De Villiers told The Mercury newspaper in South Africa.

"I have lots of evidence of this, and have already spoken to my bosses at the South African Rugby Union about it. They told me I must just give them the names, and it will be sorted out.

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"It is not about me and what I want, but what is best for the Springbok team and South African rugby ahead of the World Cup. All SARU want is for us to win the World Cup.

“The support staff are supposed to be there to support me, and I didn’t always get it. The head coach must be the boss."

The outburst follows rumours that surfaced last year that assistant coaches Dick Muir and Gary Gold were actually running the team in conjunction with senior players John Smit and Victor Matfield.

De Villiers insisted that these sorts of suggestions could ruin Springbok chances of success at next year’s World Cup and that the matter now had to be dealt with.

Although he did not name any names, de Villiers made it very clear that he feels he has been stabbed in the back by his fellow Bok coaches or administrators.

"That kind of message (of him not running the team) being sent out to the public indicates there is chaos in the team, which is not the case,” added de Villiers.

“So I must get rid of the kind of people who are sending these messages out.

"I gave my management team lots of freedom when I became coach. I let them get on and do their thing, but I didn’t think they would respond like this."

The SARU have since issued a statement confirming that de Villiers has told them of his concerns and that they will be discussed further at a meeting in May.

"Springbok coach Peter de Villiers had expressed his concern about certain aspects of management performance and he received SARU’s support in the event he felt it necessary to make personnel changes," said manager of national teams Andy Marinos. 

"Peter will discuss his plans for the coming season with his management when they gather next month as part of a re-focusing exercise, when his expectations of them will be repeated. 

"It is imperative that we leave no stone unturned in the preparations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and that we cover all bases to ensure that all involved have a common dedicated focus."

However, in another twist to the saga and in direct contrast to what de Villiers had seemingly called for, Marinos added that, "there are currently no plans to replace any member of management. In addition, consultants may be called in from time-to-time to assist in specialist areas, as they have in the past."

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