New Zealand v South Africa, Tri-Nations, Auckland, July 10
De Villiers bites back at 'big mouth' Henry
July 5, 2010

Springbok coach Peter De Villiers has weighed in to a war of words prior to Saturday's Tri-Nations meeting with the All Blacks in Hamilton, biting back at suggestions that his side do not play enough rugby.

New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw and coach Graham Henry suggested that the Boks will be "forced out of their comfort zone" by the open play of their side and Robbie Deans' Australia. De Villiers, though, dismissed the jibe.

"Graham Henry is a good coach, but he's like me, he has a big mouth," he said. "I don't understand what they mean by playing less rugby. We all play for 80 minutes. And we are never in a comfort zone. We try to improve week by week, even if it's just by half a percent."

All Blacks assistant Steve Hansen kept his distance from the exchange, although he did joke at the expense of De Villiers before insisting that his side had plenty of motivation after losing three Tests to the Springboks last season.

"He's got an upside down mouth. He's one of those unfortunate people born with an upside down smile," he said. "I don't want to comment on that. It's just mind games from two very astute coaches.

"I know there's a deep down desire to perform well. Having lost the Tri-Nations last year, there's a huge hunger to win it back. We fancy ourselves as being a fairly handy rugby side too, and it will be a big Test match. Tri-Nations rugby involves three of the sides in the top four in the world rankings and there's a lot at stake. Clearly the tension and pressure that comes with that is a lot greater than normal."


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