Peter de Villiers hopes to attract experience to Gqeberha
CAPE TOWN - Not only did Eastern Province leak 87 points and 12 tries against the Bulls, they also lost captain Inny Radebe for the rest of the Preparation Series with a broken hand.
But despite the thrashing at Loftus on Sunday, coach Peter de Villiers still found some positives.
EP actually took a 3-0 lead with an early penalty from Radebe, and stopped the Bulls a few times with some committed defence.
But with a largely amateur team made up of club players who haven’t played for over a year, they were never going to keep up with the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup champions.
“One of the things I was very positive about is the scrums. I think that once, in the second half, we were scrummed back. The two scrum penalties that were given was because the gap between the two packs was so wide, and our prop went down first. But scrums that were steady, we actually held our own,” De Villiers said.
“Then, the speed of our line-out jumpers, we fixed that in the second half. But we gave away too many balls in the first half. And we didn’t look after our balls. Today was a great learning curve for the players.”
With the Southern Kings franchise having had to close down due to financial and administration problems, it is the EP Elephants who are now tasked with reinvigorating the game in the Eastern Cape.
But for that to happen, De Villiers hopes to attract a couple of experienced players.
“A hell of a lot of things need to change. If you look back, after we came back from isolation into world rugby, how it took time for us to get to grips with the speed and intensity of the game,” the former Springbok coach said.
“You could see that almost 50 percent of what we saw on the field (on Sunday) was a lack of mental strength at this level. We need three or four mentally strong players as a leadership group to take them forward when things don’t go well.
“But for me to talk about what needs to be done outside of the union, this is not the right place – it won’t help it a bit. I think we need to go back and talk to the people inside, and see what they can do to make us more professional so that the players can be there all the time and start building their own careers.”