By Ashfak Mohamed
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers says that Luke Watson, who gestured angrily at a booing Loftus Versfeld crowd during the team's heated Super 14 clash with the Bulls on Saturday, proved with his performance during the game that he "is a great rugby player".
Watson was booed throughout the match by a Loftus crowd venting its unhappiness with the Springbok loose forward for his comments about Afrikaners and the Bok jersey last year. Several posters displayed by rugby fans mocked and criticised him.
Eventually, the tension spilled over in the 36th minute when Watson was involved in a scuffle with Bulls wing Gerhard van den Heever, 19.
Watson pulled Van den Heever's jersey over his head, and then gestured animatedly at the crowd, but the jeers only increased.
At the press conference after the match, De Villiers said the Stormers side had handled the Watson situation well.
"We knew the crowd would boo a bit and give Luke a little bit of grief, but we are professional players and we know how to handle it. We stood together well as a team," he said.
"I thought Luke had a fantastic game and showed he is a great rugby player. People should judge him on that."
De Villiers and coach Rassie Erasmus said they did not see the incident.
Erasmus said he did not agree with gesturing, but Watson would not face any disciplinary action.
Stormers media manager Frikkie Erasmus said last night that Watson did not want to comment.
The Stormers lost 14-10.