De Villiers wary of backlash
September 7, 2012
Jean de Villiers is aiming to lead South Africa to a second victory in the Rugby Championship and take his unbeaten run as Springbok captain to six matches © PA Photos
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers expects no less a challenge from Australia in Perth on Saturday despite Robbie Deans' team having already slipped to two losses in the Rugby Championship.
The Wallabies lost home and away to world champions New Zealand. They lost the first 19-27 in Sydney, before the All Blacks ran riot to win 22-0 in Auckland a week later. Following the match there were calls for Deans to be sacked as Australia coach. It represents a rapid fall from grace for Deans whose young side was praised for finishing third at the World Cup just under a year ago and tipped to be one of the favourites for the 2015 World Cup. Even so De Villiers doesn't believe that Australia's results so far are indicative of their ability.
"They were up against a quality side in New Zealand, the number one ranked team in the world, the World Cup winners, all of that," De Villiers said. "(Australia) are a very skilled team. I think, as a backline player playing against them is difficult. They've got a lot skill running wise in attack and in defence. They're always solid."
South Africa have made a mixed start to the tournament. After they won 27-6 against Argentina in the South American side's tournament debut, they were unable to repeat the result a week later and were held to a 16-16 draw. Duane Vermeulen is set to make his debut for the Springboks as part of an inexperienced group of forwards and De Villiers believes it will give him the chance to press his claims for a regular place in the starting team.
"I read something yesterday where our pack, the starting eight, only has 112 caps. Last year John Smit had 111 and Victor Matfield had 110," he said. "It makes a big difference in experience within the squad, but I think the guys that have come in have done really well and they've taken their opportunities. Once you've got a new team and once you're building as a team it's an opportunity to put up your hand and stake your claim for a position in the team and stay there for a long time. I think the guys have done that and hopefully we can show some more maturity tomorrow."
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