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De Villiers gets support from suprising ally

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Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse has come out in support of Springbok coach Peter de Villiers who has been criticised by Cedrick Frolick, vice-chairperson of parliament’s portfolio committee on sport.

Frolick was highly incensed after Tuesday’s Springbok team announcement revealed that two in-form black players, Ricky Januarie and Conrad Jantjes, has been dropped in favour of two white players, Fourie du Preez and Percy Montgomery, in the side to play New Zealand in Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test at Newlands.

Frolick’s scathing attack on De Villiers was first reported in a Cape Town Afrikaans daily newspaper on Wednesday and has subsequently been repeated in newspapers and on rugby websites around the world.

“It was Ricky (Januarie) who helped make history in the House of Pain,” Frolick was quoted in Die Burger.

It was a reference to Januarie’s try which enabled the Springboks to win a Test match in Dunedin for the first time since 1921.

The Boks ran out 30-28 winners over the All Blacks in their second 2008 Tri-Nations match.

“Personally, I think Ricky has proved himself as South Africa’s leading scrumhalf. Is it Fourie’s World Cup status that now elevates him above Ricky? “In my view, Fourie has done nothing to justify a place in the starting lineup.

“Conrad Jantjes is, on present form, the No 1 fullback. It is worrying that people make decisions with their heart to give someone (Montgomery) his 100th Test cap.

“This creates questions about where we are heading. I know Peter wants to win the Tri-Nations but he must realise he will be measured according to his ability to transform the team and to make it representative of the country’s population for the 2011 World Cup.

“We have also seen nothing of the new type of rugby that Peter has spoken of.

“It is interesting that coloureds and blacks traditionally support the All Blacks when they play at Newlands. Is the team that has been selected of such a nature that it will ensure the support of most South Africans?

“We cannot repeat the cycle of the White era. We must build for 2011.

“It is easy to fall into a comfort zone. He (De Villiers) should be reminded of his mandate. It’s not all about transformation but it is an important part of it. Not one black player has let South Africa down this year.

“He (De Villiers) should be reminded of his mandate and it was time to see the coach’s initial thinking being realised on the field.”

On Thursday morning Arendse said that De Villiers had not shirked his duties on the transformation score.

“One has to be pragmatic in his position as the coach of the national rugby team,” said Arendse.

“Peter has shown that he is wholly committed to the process of transformation and if he decides on a certain permutation for a specific match one cannot then question his commitment.

“We’ve seen since the outset of Peter’s tenure as the national coach that he has created a climate on the rugby landscape for black talents to develop, and one just has to recall who was included in his first Springbok training group.

“After a few months now Peter has significantly increased the pool of black talent that can do South African rugby proud and his efforts must be commended.

“Peter has the delicate task of balancing results and transformation and no one can fault him on this score.

“It’s never easy in the context of SA sport but he’s guided the Springbok team to a rare victory at Carisbrook’s House of Pain, something none of his predecessors have been able to do.

“I sincerely hope that the South African public throw their weight behind the Boks and that there will be overwhelming support for De Villiers and his side at Newlands on Saturday.

“The direction that De Villiers has been taking will ensure that rugby will thrive in this country and it is only a matter of time before we’ll have a situation where the black representative in the Springbok side will increase significantly.

“One has to bear in mind that each game has specific needs and by selecting those players Peter has gone about his business by just applying common sense.

Frolick’s comments about coloureds and blacks have also been noted by visiting New Zealand rugby writers, who have expressed surprise by the overwhelming support for the New Zealand players from local supporters.

On Wednesday four All Blacks attended an autograph signing session at a Cape Town shopping centre and the reception was so overwhelming that one journalist remarked: “When the four players went on stage, the roar just about carried to Auckland.”

Several thousand fans, mostly coloured and many wearing All Blacks memorabilia, packed the complex on Wednesday.

The All Blacks’ tour contingent were equally overwhelmed when they were greeted by several hundred fans on their arrival in Cape Town last week, despite the fact that their arrival details were not made available to the public.

Sapa – TriNationsweb.com

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