De Villiers says players should shoulder blame

PUBLISHED: March 19, 2006

After they suffered another defeat at home, Vodacom Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said the players should shoulder the blame.

The Stormers capitulated 31-25 to the Cheetahs in an exciting Vodacom Super 14 match at Newlands on Saturday.

Coach Kobus van der Merwe labelled the performance in the first half “pathetic” and his captain agreed.

“I think the players should shoulder the blame for that. I don’t think you can blame the coaching staff, because it was the same players who were on the field and two different teams who played the first and second half.”

The Stormers trailed 18-3 at halftime, but staged a heroic comeback after a few tactical substitutions were made at halftime. They even took the lead at one stage, but were pipped in the last six minutes.

De Villiers said he as captain should take responsibility for what happened during the first 40. “It was unacceptable. We made too many mistakes and too many handling errors. Handling is a basic thing and at this level something you should be able to do.

“I stand first in the que, my handling was very bad.”

Van der Merwe said he thought the handling was good in the second half, but in the first half everything was pathetic – not only the handling.

Responding to a question, the coach said he didn’t think flyhalf Peter Grant should be singled out for the first-half malaise.

“I think Naas (Olivier) did well when he came on and I am very happy with his performance. He is one of the guys who could be satisfied with his performance, but as a team we were pathetic in the first 40 minutes.”

Van der Merwe said he asked the players after the match why they could play such good rugby in the second half and such poor rugby in the first.

“It is a pity that one first has to speak to them sternly at halftime. I think the first 30 minutes in the second half showed what these guys are capable of. I cannot understand why the first 40 didn’t look like that.”