England v South Africa, Twickenham, November 24
Meyer hails De Villiers' leadership
November 19, 2012
South Africa's Jean de Villiers looks for an opening in the Scotland defence during their clash at Murrayfield on Saturday © Getty Images
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers will lead his side into battle against England on Saturday with a glowing endorsement of his leadership skills from coach Heyneke Meyer ringing in his ears.
While his England counterpart Chris Robshaw has come in for criticism in the wake of their 20-14 defeat to Australia on Saturday with his side's decision to spurn shots at goal in the hope of scoring tries the subject of much debate, De Villiers has been applauded for a similarly bold approach that laid the foundation for the Boks' 21-10 success against Scotland.
"We decided beforehand that we were going to put them under pressure as we knew they would come out firing and eager to get their crowd in behind them and to get a foothold in the game," Meyer told Supersport having seen his side go for touch rather than the posts in the early stages of the Murrayfield clash. They couldn't get into our half and we kept them, under pressure," he added. "I thought tactically Jean was brilliant with the calls in the first half."
Reflecting on his side's tactics that were not initially rewarded but eventually led to a try for hooker Adriaan Strauss, De Villiers said: "The decision not kick for poles comes down to gut feel. The first one only just never worked for us, but then it worked for us later on. All the players gave me backing for my decision, and we felt we got it right most of the way."
Meyer also revealed that the Boks' season was starting to take its toll with his comments set to be music to England's ears as they look to make a late surge up the International Rugby Board rankings and secure a favourable 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw next month.
"It's hard to say what happened," said Meyer when pressed on Scotland's second half comeback, "but I think the Scots lifted themselves after they scored their try off a lineout set in the corner off a penalty.
"That gave them momentum, and they knew that if they just played the game in our half, they could play off penalties that we conceded. It was very frustrating and something we are going to have to redress.
"But while I always hate to be seen to be making excuses, I also want to add that it has been a long and tiring year for us. I think there were quite a few players that just never had a second 40 minutes in them today."
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