South African Rugby
Smit defends maligned de Villiers
July 29, 2011
Peter de Villiers has come out with some bizarre comments over the past couple of years but has found solace in his captain John Smit © Getty Images
Springboks captain John Smit has leapt to the defence of his under fire coach Peter de Villiers ahead of Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand.
The South African coach has been the subject of much criticism around the rugby world - as much for his public comments as anything else - and was singled out for criticism earlier this week by former Springboks coach Jake White.
But Smit was assured in his defence of his coach in Wellington. "We're in our fourth year with Peter. We haven't seen too many players running away just yet but the stories continue," Smit said. "I think the perception is because he is different to what we had before. We needed a different coach to what we had before.
"When we started with Jake [White] he pretty much had to start from ground zero and turn us into something that had some idea of structure and how to play and what our strengths were. And that was drilled into us for a good three or four years leading into the 2007 World Cup."
Smit added: "To be honest coaches in South Africa are always going to be under pressure, it's probably the one job I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
"It's frustrating for us as players to keep seeing Peter under pressure. He's very good to us and whenever we've needed something he's provided that and for me in the time we have had with him he has been the guy who has been able to coach us in the appropriate manner. "I think another coach with a different type of personality would have made things go a little differently in terms of results in the last three or four years."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"Wayne Barnes' decision to give Dylan Hartley his marching orders was brave but crucially it was the correct call." Graham Jenkins reports from the Premiership final
"We wanted to get the rugby spirit across to people, I firmly believe we have been in the thick of it." Tom Hamilton speaks to the ESPN crew on the final live broadcast
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown