‘Boks made selection mistake’

Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell believes Heyneke Meyer mishandled the return of captain Jean de Villiers.

De Villiers made his return to Test rugby against Argentina last Saturday, starting at outside centre as the Boks succumbed to their first-ever defeat to the Pumas.

Mitchell suggested De Villiers should have been reintegrated off the bench and that his hasty return to the starting lineup send out the wrong message.

‘De Villiers should have been managed to and through the World Cup by coming off the bench,’ Mitchell wrote on Scrum.com. ‘It was a mistake by Meyer and it felt wrong to break up the centre pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende, who had a blinder against New Zealand.

‘It sent out all the wrong messages and tellingly De Villiers was even uncomfortable about the backline reshuffle.’

Mitchell also said that he felt it may prove to be a safer option to back Pat Lambie to start at flyhalf at the World Cup.

‘Handré Pollard is a very young flyhalf so situationally his execution lets him down at times. Lambie makes better attacking kicking options, but Pollard is physical and can break the line or tackle bust … Pollard is more comfortable with quicker ball and a running halfback. I'm not sure that Pollard's relationship with [Ruan] Pienaar represents much of an attacking threat as the latter serves more than he runs.’

Read Mitchell's column

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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