De Villiers to skipper Boks v England
DURBAN, South Africa, June 4 AFP – South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday that centre Jean de Villiers would captain the Springboks in a three-Test series against England during June.
The announcement ends months of speculation with retired lock Victor Matfield and Japan-based scrum-half Fourie du Preez among those tipped to lead the Springboks.
Media rumours about 35-year-old Matfield eventually fizzled out while Du Preez reportedly told Meyer that he did not feel Test-ready having played a season with Japanese champions Suntory Sungoliath.
“My heart was in my throat when Heyneke told me about his decision,” said De Villiers.
“This is not an honour bestowed upon many people and I really hope that I can do my country proud.”
South Africa and England continue a rivalry that began in 1906 this Saturday at Kings Park in Durban followed by two more Tests on June 16 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and on June 23 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
De Villiers was not even captain of Super 15 franchise Western Stormers at the beginning of this year, but flank Schalk Burger suffered a long-term injury in the opening round and the door of opportunity swung open for his deputy.
He has guided Stormers to the top of the South African conference entering the closing stages of the Super Rugby season.
Meyer hinted last month that De Villiers was a serious contender to lead his country after spending several days working with the Stormers squad as part of the England series build-up.
“I was really impressed with the way Jean runs the backline and his organisational skills. He is definitely one of the contenders for the captaincy,” revealed Meyer.
07 Jun 9:57 AM