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Bok coach changes tune over substitutions

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Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has criticised the negative reaction to his substitutions in Saturday’s first test victory over the British and Irish Lions.


South African media and the public heavily criticised De Villiers for his substitutions after they had built a strong 26-7 lead in Durban before De Villiers made several changes and then watched the Lions bravely fight back and then lose 26-21.


Speaking directly after the match De Villiers said that he was wrong for emptying the bench between the 50th and 70th minutes which impacted on the game and made the Springboks appear arrogant by treating the game as a training run.

 

On Monday however the slant had changed somewhat.

“I heard the papers went mad. Sorry for them. Do they know we won the match?” said De Villiers on Monday.


“We’ve taken 12 years to beat the Lions and if we beat them by one point or 20 points it does not matter, I will rejoice,” De Villiers told Reuters.


“I was replacing Springboks with Springboks, not with schoolboys.”


“I made the decision to substitute them because I felt we needed to inject some pace and energy into the game. “


“In any rugby match, there is a period where players go to sleep, so you want to inject new energy.”


“Looking back, I maybe took too long to make the changes as we had already gone into a defensive mode.


“I could have put two new guys on straight away, and then a few more a bit later. But again, I’m very happy we won the game,” De Villiers added.


The Springbok coach also defended the substitution of Fourie du Preez with Ricky Januarie who had was struggling for form after the Stormers dropped him during the Super 14 season.


“If I listened to 43 million opinions, I believe I would be lost,” De Villiers said.

 

“I’m not concerned about Ricky’s form.”

All of the 29 strong Springboks squad trained on Monday including flanker Schalk Burger who missed the first test due to a calf injury, Du Preez and reserve prop Deon Carstens who both suffered shoulder injuries during the match.

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