De Villiers queries Lions' selection - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

De Villiers queries Lions' selection

By Julian Guyer 24/04/2009 02:23:21 PM Comments (0)

South Africa coach Peter de Villiers has questioned whether the British and Irish Lions were right to pick a squad designed to match the world champions' renowned forward strength.

The Lions travel to South Africa next month for a 10-match tour which features three Tests against the Springboks and on Tuesday coach Ian McGeechan named a 37-man squad which was, according to scrum guru Graham Rowntree, full of "beasts".

But de Villiers, speaking to BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday, queried whether that was the right approach.

"If McGeechan wants to sit down and try to match the Springboks then I think that is the wrong thing," said de Villiers, who succeeded 2007 World Cup winning boss Jake White as South Africa coach.

"If he wants to say 'this is our strength, this is how we want to play the game, these are the people who can do the job for me' then I can justify any selection he has made."

The way in which several members of the Lions coaching staff spoke this week, suggested they were more focused on stopping South Africa than playing to their strengths.

It was a point not lost on de Villiers, who added: "I will not sit down and say 'they are going to do this, so I should do this'. I am more focused on what I want to do and I will find the talent and the players to do the job for us."

De Villiers was also taken aback by McGeechan's decision to leave out the captains of England, Scotland and Wales, with Steve Borthwick, Mike Blair and Ryan Jones respectively all omitted.

He was surprised too by McGeechan's decision to elevate Paul O'Connell to the Lions captaincy, even though the squad contains centre Brian O'Driscoll who was the lock's captain during Ireland's Grand Slam triumph during this season's Six Nations.

O'Driscoll was also chosen as Lions captain for the ill-fated New Zealand tour four years ago before injury cut short his trip.

"The one thing that surprised me was that the leaders of three home nations weren't included in the squad - the guys that play under those guys respect them," de Villiers said.

"Those are the guys that can stand up in meetings and try to resolve small niggles and things that can evolve on a long tour like this.

"Brian O'Driscoll was the captain of the last Lions team, even though he got injured, and he was the captain of the most successful Six Nations team this year. That's a second big surprise."

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