South Africa Rugby
De Villiers denies coaching rift
ESPNscrum Staff
October 24, 2010
Coach Peter de Villiers talks with Dick Muir and Gary Gold of South Africa during the Springboks training session held at Wasps Rugby Club in London, England November 20, 2008.
Peter de Villiers has denied any talk of a rift between him and his coaching team © Getty Images

Springbok coach Peter de Villiers insists there is no bad blood between him and his coaching team of Gary Gold and Dick Muir as they prepare for their tour of Europe.

But the outspoken boss did admit he had sounded out others about his two assistants' positions during the turbulent period that followed this season's difficult Tri-Nations campaign that saw the holders finish bottom of the table with just one win. De Villiers, whose own position was also called into question, has since met with backs coach Muir and forwards guru Gold to discuss the matter and considers the issue now closed.

Recent reports in South Africa stated that De Villiers had knocked on the doors of several other coaches in recent weeks - among them Lions boss John Mitchell, Bulls mentor Frans Ludeke, Western Province coach Allister Coetzee as well as Rassie Erasmus and Heyneke Meyer - and all had turned down offers to team up with the Boks - a fact not denied by De Villiers.

"I did chat to other people but the intention was not to replace Gary and Dick," De Villiers told IOL Sport. "I was instructed to see who would be available to help us (the Springboks) ... just as Os (du Randt) has come in. It was more for the long-term, looking ahead to the World Cup. We've had a couple of meetings in the last few weeks and we've got a good relationship."

Among the dissenting voices in South Africa is sports scientist Tim Noakes who has called into question the wisdom of the tired Boks touring in November, but De Villiers is keen to see his side bounce back from their disappointing soutthern hemisphere campaign and claims his side look fresh ahead of clashes with Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the Barbarians.

"They've all looked sharp since coming back into the Currie Cup," the coach said, "While we respect the thoughts of a guy like sports scientist Tim Noakes, there is a difference between science and the real world.

"The reality is the workload between the players is different ... you can't compare Bryan (Habana) with Beast (Mtawarira). There are many factors one has to take into consideration, among them their involvement in the game, and then you can make a decision. If we can get the balance right, then we'll have our best players available for a long time to come.

"We're hoping to get a five percent improvement from the players in defence and execution - the areas that let us down in the Tri-Nations. If we manage that and add to the structure we've built, then we'll be able to turn things around.

"Only a few points stood between us and a few victories in the last 12 months, so it wasn't such a disappointing year. A few big moments didn't go our way and our execution let us down. Right now though, we have only Ireland in mind. We're clear where we want to be. Dick and Gary have done a lot of hard work behind the scenes and we're looking forward to a successful Ireland match."

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