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Springboks threaten to withdraw from touring squad

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Up to half of the current Springbok squad are ready to withdraw from the end of year tour to England, Wales and Scotland should controversial flanker Luke Watson be chosen, a report has claimed.


Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag said that this message has been delivered to SA Rugby and Springbok coach Peter de Villiers this past week after Watson was again in the limelight for controversial comments about the Springbok jersey and Afrikaans speaking people.


Players in Durban, Gauteng and Cape Town had confirmed to the newspaper that they were ready to withdraw if Watson was picked, the newspaper claimed.


Senior players were so upset by the comments, and Watson’s influence on the team that they asked captain John Smit to deliver the message to Springbok coach Peter de Villiers in their meeting on Friday.


A separate meeting, between the South African Rugby Players Association’s Piet Heymans and acting SA Rugby Managing Director Andy Marinos was also said to contain a similar message on Watson.


The report quotes a senior Springbok who says Watson “does not belong in the side”.


“The other players don’t want to play with him. They feel they can’t be open in a team environment with each other and are worried that what they say may get back to the politicians.”


Watson may not be chosen in any event, the newspaper added, as his form was not up to standard.


The newspaper also reported that coach Peter De Villiers told a Pretoria breakfast on Thursday that Watson had broken the Springbok code of conduct.


“You don’t allow the actions of an individual to influence an entire team,” De Villiers was reported to have said.


Sapa – Rugbyweek.com

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