Mour­inho waits for apol­ogy

Boks are fired-up to take on France and grab a vic­tory

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE GREENAWAY

THERE was a steely de­ter­mi­na­tion about Spring­bok cap­tain Jean de Vil­liers yes­ter­day when he de­liv­ered his pre­match thoughts to the me­dia ahead of to­day’s sea­son cur­tain call in a coun­try where De Vil­liers has never won and has suf­fered calami­tous in­juries.

Not far from the Spring­boks’ ho­tel in the fash­ion­able dis­trict of Mont­par­nasse is the Rue De Vil­liers, a con­fir­ma­tion of the cap­tain’s French an­ces­try, as is his first name, Jean, and there are hints all through the Spring­bok squad of the con­tri­bu­tion the French Huguenots made to Afrikaner cul­ture when they es­caped re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion by flee­ing to the Cape Colony 300 years ago.

Cur­rent Bok names in Du Preez (as in Fourie), Le Roux (Wil­lie), Fourie (Jaque), Du Plessis (Bis­marck), Du Toit (Pi­eter-Steph), Pien­aar (Ruan) and Mal­herbe (Frans) are all of French ori­gin but cap­tain De Vil­liers has never had a good ex­pe­ri­ence in the land of his roots.

His Spring­bok de­but was against France, in Mar­seilles in 2002, and seven min­utes into the match (lost 30-10), he tore knee lig­a­ments and it would be two years be­fore he again played for the Boks.

In 2005, De Vil­liers was in a Bok team that had beaten the All Blacks at New­lands and was ex­pected to win in Paris only to go down 26-20, and when he was next in Paris, for the 2007 Rugby World Cup opener against Samoa, he tore a bi­cep mus­cle early in the game and that was the end of his World Cup cam­paign.

“Not one of us knows what it is like to beat France at home al­though a lot of the guys have great mem­o­ries of the 2007 World Cup here,” De Vil­liers said. “The last time a Bok team won here was in 1997, a game I re­call watch­ing on TV as a young­ster and mar­vel­ling at the tries scored in that 52-10 vic­tory.

“Now we have chance of both end­ing a drought and of sign­ing off a sea­son that has been suc­cess­ful for us,” the cap­tain said. “Be­ing the last game, it gives us the chance to empty ev­ery­thing we have out there on the field in mak­ing sure we put up a per­for­mance that will give us a good hol­i­day. The last thing you want is to play a bad game and then dwell on it for the six months you have un­til the next Test (June 2014). So we ob­vi­ously want to fin­ish well.”

De Vil­liers pointed out that the All Blacks lost their last game of 2012, to Eng­land at Twick­en­ham, and then had to chew on that de­feat un­til they played France in New Zealand in June this year.

“We don’t want a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, of course, but we are not ap­proach­ing this game with the mind­set of avoid­ing de­feat,” he said. “Nor are we fo­cus­ing on it as the last game of the year. It is not the end for us. Rather it is the be­gin­ning of the 2014 jour­ney. It starts now, and we view this game as a chance to progress and im­prove as a team.”

De Vil­liers said the Boks sel­dom play France – in fact they have only played them four times in France since the 1997 win – and rar­ity has mo­ti­vated the team to test them­selves in an en­counter sig­nif­i­cantly out of their com­fort zone.

“The re­al­ity is most of our team have not played a Test in France, it is dif­fer­ent con­di­tions un­der foot, it will be freez­ing cold and none of us are used to kick­ing off at 9pm,” De Vil­liers said. “So it is a nice test for the boys and we are not talk­ing about avoid­ing de­feat, we are talk­ing about chuck­ing another mon­key off our back, like we did ear­lier this year when we won in Bris­bane for the first time since the ‘70s.

“It ex­cites us that we have not won here for 16 games,” De Vil­liers con­cluded. “We want to rec­tify this. We want to win here in con­di­tions that suit France, we want to be shiv­er­ing at the na­tional an­thems and then go on and show we are a bet­ter team than France. There is a lot for us to play for.”

READY TO ROCK: Spring­bok cap­tain Jean de Vil­liers pre­pares for tonight’s Test against France.

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