Insure your car, home and valuables with iWYZE
I’VE ALWAYS believed that a weak army with a great leader will always beat a great army with a weak leadership. When it comes to the Springboks, I think we are lucky that we’ve got a great army and a great leader.
It was with these words that coach Heyneke Meyer announced 31-year-old Jean de Villiers as the captain to lead the Boks into battle for the three-Test series against England, which starts this Saturday in Durban (5pm kick-off).
With Fourie du Preez having made himself unavailable for the post that many had most recently expected him to fill, De Villiers will become the 54th Springbok captain.
“I have a lot of belief and faith in Jean.” Meyer explained. “First and foremost he’s always impressed me as a human being and I always select the personality before the rugby player.
“Jean has really led a young Stormers team extremely well. I took a long time to make this decision because I wanted to make the right one,” Meyer said. “I feel Jean is the best captain and I’m happy he accepted. I have a lot of confidence in him and know he’s the right guy to take the team forward.”
De Villiers, who has 72 Test caps to his name, said his appointment – which at this stage will just be for the next three Tests – was the highlight of his career.
“I made my debut 10 years ago and to now be selected as captain, I feel like a 21-year-old getting my first cap again. It’s a great honour and a great privilege…
“With this job comes massive pressure and I definitely have big boots to fill now that John (Smit) and Victor (Matfield) aren’t here.
“I’ve had the privilege to play under many great captains, though, and you learn from those guys. Hopefully I can apply that, as well as put my own personal touch on the captaincy and lead the team as well as I can.”
Elaborating further on the appointment, Meyer highlighted that De Villiers had the unequivocal backing of everyone involved in the squad.
“What is great for me is that I first spoke to the management and every person was really behind Jean, including the players. Every person has respect for him and what he’s accomplished and that was important for me. He’s also been playing great rugby for the Stormers and that was something I was also pleased with.”
Meyer added that the vice-captain would be named at the team announcement tomorrow, although he emphasised that De Villiers had the support of a number of strong leaders around him such as Keegan Daniel, Pierre Spies and Adriaan Strauss.
The new skipper added: “You’ve got captains from all the franchises in this squad, bar Josh Strauss, but Franco van der Merwe has also captained the Lions.
“There are a lot of leaders here, and although you don’t want every guy in the team trying to make decisions on the field, I will also call on these guys to help with big decisions at times.”
Despite coming off the back of two bruising Super Rugby derbies, De Villiers warned that the Springboks would be ready to face England.
“The local derbies are tough, but that’s in the past. We’re one team now and that’s the special thing about this group of players, we can bash each other up one day and the next look each other in the eye and have lunch together.
“That makes my job a lot easier because I can be a leader of great men.”