Cheating claims starting to tire on Somerville

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NZPA     13 Aug 2008     Getty Images

With New Zealand and South Africa due to clash in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZT), Springbok coach Peter de Villiers launched another attack at the weekend on the legality of All Black tactics at set pieces.

Asked his reaction, Somerville said today that he hadn't heard the details of de Villiers' latest complaint, which was made to the Afrikaans Sunday paper Sondag and related to the lineout.

But he denied any wrongdoing by the All Blacks and said such claims were "becoming familiar territory to us, really".

"It just gets said every week and you sort of get a bit sick of it in the end," he said.

Somerville, a veteran of 62 Tests, agreed that the allegations were probably a pre-match manoeuvre to stir things up.

"But you can't think about it too much," he said.

"You just get on with the job."

Last month, after a dominant scrum display helped New Zealand to a 19-8 victory in Wellington, de Villiers accused All Black loosehead Tony Woodcock of illegally boring into Springbok tighthead CJ van der Linde.

This time, he picked up on what he saw as three lineout transgressions -- coming through the lineout unlawfully to stop the ball being thrown down to the halfback, playing the lineout jumpers in the air or jumping across the line, and closing the gap between the two sets of players.

He said that, if Australian referee Matt Goddard didn't control the set pieces, which were Springboks' strengths, the match at Newlands would be a farce.

Somerville, speaking about the scrum, said all teams tried to make life hard for the opposition and fans wouldn't want it any other way.

"They're going to try to pressure us on our ball and going to try to get into me, like angle in on me, and the same happens on their ball," he said.

"People don't want to see scrums becoming nothing, do they? They still want to see a bit of the good old stuff, where two teams are trying to get at each other. I don't think it's cheating. It's just two teams going at it."

Both de Villiers and All Black counterpart Graham Henry are due to name their 22s tomorrow for what is shaping up as a pivotal Test in this year's Philips Tri Nations.

If South Africa win, they will really fancy their chances of taking the title, as their last two matches, against Australia, are also at home.

But if the All Blacks come out on top, their destiny remains in their own hands until their final Test, against the Wallabies in Brisbane next month.

"It's definitely a crucial match for both sides," Somerville said.

"If we can nail this, it puts us in a good position. If we don't, it's all square and it will come down to how the Aussies go over here, and we'll only have one game left so it makes it tough. It's definitely high on the agenda."