Peter de Villiers is confident his patched-up Springbok squad can go a long way towards re-establishing South African as the number one team in the world.
Despite fielding a team that is without 23 frontline players on the away leg of the Tri-Nations, De Villiers feels the trip can play a big role in helping the South Africans regain the number one spot on the IRB rankings.
De Villiers, who has repeatedly been forced to defend the decision to leave such a large number of frontline players at home, said most of the Boks were physically wrecked after the expanded Super Rugby season.
“Super glue won't even help those players," the Bok coach said.
"It was the sensible decision to rest them. For one moment of greatness, why bugger up a player's future?.
“CJ van der Linde has a really bad groin and Johann Muller's hamstring is even worse, but we will take them overseas.
“So you can imagine how badly injured the players are who are staying behind,” De Villiers told a sponsor's function.
Instead of focusing on the disruptions caused by injuries, De Villiers insisted his charges could regain their status as the best in the world.
“To me, this is the Springbok team that is going to compete and we are serious about becoming number one in the world again,” he told a media gathering in Johannesburg.
“If we can do that before the World Cup, it will be brilliant.”
With the core of his regular team missing from the shortened Australasian tour, De Villiers emphasised that a great deal of their success depended on the ability of his men to work as a unit.
During a training session counterattacking and establishing a tight defensive line were just two of the areas being fine-tuned.
“We worked on a couple of things that were bothering me and I must say that I'm really excited about the way the guys are adapting - especially the younger guys,” said De Villiers.
Although the starting XV for the opening match against Australia in Sydney, on July 23, may be one of the less experienced sides fielded by De Villiers in his tenure, most of the players have been exposed to the Test arena.
During the 2010 year-end tour, several of the younger players enjoyed a taste of Springbok rugby against the Barbarians.
De Villiers said they would build look on the experience gained in that environment
“I think the lesson that we learnt from that Barbarian Test is that you can't go with all these new guys when the going gets tough - they all try to be the saviours of the team and we are working hard to mature them a bit.
“Coming from Cape Town where we know how to mature wine, we are using the same principle.”
The coach, who did raise some eyebrows by including hooker and captain John Smit in the touring party, said he was confident the 2007 World Cup winner will be back to his best at this year's edition in New Zealand in September.
“After those two matches overseas, John Smit will be where I want him to be. He hasn't been used properly this year.
“I believe he's gained an extra year for himself after a neck operation last year, a great off-season and great pre-season preparation. He is fresh, raring to go and he just needs game time.
“I trust in John Smit, he's a great world star, a fine player and I'm going to give him the opportunity to show that again. Nobody rated him, then he won the World Cup, and now nobody rates him again,” De Villiers said.
Sharks coach John Plumtree preferred the mobile and physical Bismarck du Plessis over Smit as his team made the Super Rugby playoffs but De Villiers stressed the Springboks have different players and would use their hooker in a different role.
“The attributes that Bismarck du Plessis provides for the Sharks are the same ones that Juan Smith provides for the Springboks. The Sharks don't have a Juan Smith at flank, so you can't compare the decisions John Plumtree makes for them. I know John Smit can take his game to another level,” De Villiers said.
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