‘Honest’ De Villiers eyes next step

Peter de Villiers did not beat around the bush when asked by this website why he felt he would be a good replacement for Springbok coach Jake White.

White last week confirmed his stated intention of stepping down after the Boks’ year-end tour to Wales and England and the race is now on to find his replacement.

De Villiers is one of four candidates on the current Bok coaching shortlist – which also includes the Bulls’ Super 14-winning coach Heyneke Meyer, White’s current backline coach Allister Coetzee and 1995 World Cup-winning winger Chester Williams.

At 50 and with more than 20 years coaching experience behind him, De Villiers certainly does not lack experience.

However, the one aspect he feels makes him stand out from his rivals is the “honesty” that he brings to the table.

“Obviously I want to make a contribution to South African rugby,” De Villiers said this week. “However, the unique contribution I can make is honesty.

“The other stuff all the coaches have. They can all coach, they all have technical expertise and good rugby knowledge, but my strength is that I bring honesty to the table.”

De Villiers, who began coaching at Young Gardens in 1981, has won many accolades at both age-group and senior level – with an International Rugby Board (IRB) Under-21 world championship and an IRB Nations Cup title to his name.

He certainly has come a long way, but he now believes he is ready to take the next step and coach his country.

“It is the logical step for me, having come through the ranks, to go for the Bok coaching position,” said De Villiers, who was also part of Nick Mallett’s Bok management team back in 1997.

“I have been blessed by my creator with talent. But other aspects where I can make a difference is that I know people and I respect people, I am a good judge of character, I know how to get the best out of people.”

More importantly, De Villiers believes there is an abundance of talent in South Africa, with him adding: “We are so blessed with the talent at our disposal that even when you make an error [in selection], you can still get it right and put out a very competitive side.”

There is a perception, after South Africa’s World Cup campaign, that the Boks do not have adequate back-up players – a notion based on the fact that the Bok ‘B-Team’ very nearly lost a pool match to Tonga at the RWC.

De Villiers, however, believes the talent is there; it just has to be developed.

“We definitely have the depth; our second best, third best and even fourth best side is better than the best of most countries in the world,” he said. “All that is required is that everybody should be given an equal opportunity to develop, and given an opportunity to gain confidence.”

Like all the other candidates, De Villiers is fully aware of the ‘unique’ hurdles a Springbok coach could face, but he does not see them as that… He chooses to see them as a challenge that can easily be overcome.

“You must realise that you play not only for yourself, but those guys on the sidelines who couldn’t make it, the supporters and everybody,” he said.

“That is why there is a such a huge drive for victory.

“Also, there are so much negativity in the country [crime, back-stabbing, politics, etc] and people strive for something positive in their lives. That is one way to unite the country, through sport.

“The pressure will always be there, with the public demanding a winning team – it’s quite natural and I look forward to that challenge.”

De Villiers began his rugby career as a scrum-half with the Young Gardens club in the old South African Rugby Union (SARU) non-racial competition in 1976.

From 1977 to 1978 he played for Perseverance College and during this time he was chosen for the Griqualand West SARU team. In 1978 he also attended the SARU national trials.

He began coaching at Young

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