South African Rugby
White blasts De Villiers
ESPNscrum Staff
July 24, 2011
Springboks coach Peter de Villiers casts an eye over training, South Africa training session, North Sydney Oval, Sydney, Australia, July 18, 2011
South Africa coach Peter De Villiers has been criticised for his selection against Australia © Getty Images

Former coach Jake White has accused his successor Peter De Villiers of ruining South Africa's preparations for the defence of their World Cup crown.

A second-string Springboks slipped to a humbling 39-20 defeat to Australia in the opening Tri-Nations clash on Saturday. Australia dominated at the breakdown and excelled on the counter attack as South Africa, who were without a host of first-choice players, were brutally exposed in Sydney.

And White, who led South Africa to the World Cup in 2007, believes De Villiers' selection could have cost the Springboks critical momentum and tainted their chances of retaining the tag of World Champions.

''They were never going to win that game [last Saturday] with that team," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They haven't played together. After what happened against Samoa, the Wallabies would not have enjoyed playing against the first-string South African side.

"And let's be quite honest, the Australians would have felt the pressure. They would have said, 'If we lose to a second-rate South African team we are dead and buried".

"In week three, it is going to be exactly the same for South Africa. They will have their first side back on the park and they will feel that pressure. But now, there is a possibility they could lose all four Tri Nations games and have absolutely no momentum going into the World Cup.

''I would have done it differently, not just here but over the last two years,'' he said. ''You could have rested guys from the end-of-year tour last year, all the incoming Tests last year … you should be trying to win games in Australia and New Zealand with your best players.

"If they won the Tri Nations, imagine the momentum they would take into the World Cup.''

De Villiers insisted he had little choice in leaving 23 of his top players at home for the tour of Australia and New Zealand, despite some not having any known injuries.

Ahead of the 2007 World Cup, White rested a number of players for tour of Australia and New Zealand in the final two weeks of the Tri-Nations. But he insisted the two situations were entirely different.

''The reality is there is no comparison to what happened last time, they weren't the same age and the players did not need as much game time,'' he said. "The boys were rested for two weeks of the away leg over four weeks. They are going to rest them in the first two weeks. We had three friendly matches before the World Cup started against Scotland, Connacht and Namibia, which they won't have."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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