By Morné du Plessis
We’re on a little bit of a proverbial rollercoaster ride at the moment here in South Africa, we’re hoping that they’re aren’t any more dips because we can’t afford any more, but there’s a really positive feeling. Not just because we won against Samoa but the tries that we scored and the physicality of the team. There’s almost more optimism now than before the World Cup started, it’s amazing how much can change in a week.
It was a shock reaction, in retrospect it’s probably done the team a lot of good to have a look at themselves and regroup and start again. We don’t want to talk to soon but we’ve got Scotland on Saturday which is going to be their biggest test in the pool stage, I think if we can carry the momentum of the Samoa match through the Scotland match on Saturday, we’ll have a good chance of reaching the end stages of this tournament.
One negative point from the Samoa match was obviously Jean de Villiers’ injury and subsequent retirement from international rugby. It’s almost a tragedy that one person can be so unfortunate with injuries in a world cup career. I know the boy and I’ve seen him grow up, the whole nation feels for him and his family but he’s got a great life ahead of himself now in retirement. He conducted himself so well with every setback in his career.
The greatest compliment a player can get after his career is respect, from his peers and his opponents, the respect that he had is just enormous, it’s almost legendary, he’s been so respected by everyone in the rugby world. For the fans, it’s a different type of respect, more adulation. But when you get that respect you’ve got to be happy with a brilliant career.
I’ve been really enthralled by the World Cup, the commitment of all teams, the quality of rugby has been outstanding and It’s only started, it’s looking like it’s going to be fascinating when we get to the knockout stages.