De Villiers hits out at All Blacks

Getty Images     11 Aug 2008     Getty Images

De Villiers turned up the heat ahead of the Cape Town showdown - a game which will determine whether the Springboks have a shot at winning their third Tri Nations title - by accusing the All Blacks of using underhand tactics.

"It is obvious that as world champions, our biggest strengths are in the lineout and in the scrum," De Villiers told Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Sondag.

"And it is precisely here where the opposition will try and neutralise us. The All Blacks use tactics which are illegal and as far as I know if it is illegal, then it is not allowed."

De Villiers highlighted three areas in which he feels Richie McCaw's All Blacks seek to gain an unfair advantage.

"We have picked up three things that they do which are illegal in the lineouts," he said.

"It starts with their flanker coming through the lineout illegally to stop any ball thrown down to the scrum-half. They also do their best to play the lineout jumpers in the air and jump across the line and then thirdly they manage to close the gap to half a metre between the two sets of players.

"All I know is that if there is a rule, and if it applies one time, it applies to both teams. The referee has to blow according to the rules and not according to his interpretation."

Meanwhile, De Villiers has explained the 'huge decision' he took to release World Cup-winning duo Frans Steyn and Ruan Pienaar from his squad.

The pair were despatched last week to the Currie Cup - a decision that has seen De Villiers publicly criticised - but the Bok coach believes the duo's versatility counts against them.

Steyn has played in every position bar scrum-half for his country while Pienaar has turned out at full-back, wing and halfback and also featured at first five-eighths in Super 14.

"It was a huge decision to send them both back," De Villiers said.

"In last week's decision, if I looked at reserve scrum-half and, choosing between Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez, I sent Fourie back, I would have to have had my head read.

"The same goes in a decision between Jaque Fourie and Frans Steyn.

"I told them [Steyn and Pienaar] 'you can go back and decide where you want to play'. But with every decision there is a responsibility and that responsibility is that if you choose to play fly-half, you must know there are players ahead of you.

"The coach is possibly wrong, but I have to choose and stick by my decision. Both are great players but there are players here who have a little bit extra because they are specialists."