In what is sure to stir up the hornet’s nest, former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has launched a broadside at his successor Heyneke Meyer’s team by claiming they are too white.
Speaking to Ballz Radio on Monday, De Villiers slammed the lack of black players in the current team.
"It's just the little things that bother me. We need to know in what country we do live. And at this moment we are turning a lot of black people against ourselves by making the team white and nobody will talk about these things but I just have to. And that is what... actually we're breaking up our country again," De Villiers told Ballz Radio in an interview in South Africa.
Against the All Blacks over the weekend, the Springboks fielded three black players in the starting XV – Bryan Habana, Zane Kirchner and Tendai Mtawarira – with Juan de Jongh on the bench, but De Villiers felt that was not enough given the talent available to Meyer.
"We do have a lot of great [black] players who can make a difference. You have Gio Aplon - here in Cape Town - who can make a hell of a difference. You've got Juan de Jongh, an exciting player who can make a difference. We never played (Siya) Kolisi - who's now injured, he was never given a chance," said De Villiers, who is director of rugby at the University of the Western Cape, after losing the Springboks' coaching job following last year's World Cup quarter-final exit.
"There are a lot of players like Chiliboy Ralepelle (who is also injured). He was the one guy who can make that 10 per cent difference that you need from a replacement to come onto the field.
"We're turning all the black support against the Springboks. Wherever I go I hear people talking negative about the Springboks."
Meyer has been under immense pressure after a string of poor performances, and with his team selection and gameplan both under intense scrutiny, De Villiers’ comments will only make it tougher.
Interestingly , the last team De Villiers selected – the World Cup quarterfinal defeat to Australia – had three black players in the starting XV – JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana and Gurthro Steenkamp – and one on the bench in Gio Aplon.