Relieved coach names strong Bok team
Heyneke Meyer has chosen horses for courses for the Springboks' second Castle Rugby Championship test, the return game against Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday.
After a long morning training session, Meyer confirmed the starting XV with two changes to the team that took the field against Argentina last weekend in Cape Town, and with the availability of winger Bryan Habana and Andries Bekker, who were both carrying minor injuries from a week ago.
Adriaan Strauss will be the vice-captain as starting hooker and Jacques Potgieter has been preferred to Keegan Daniel in the loose forwards. This has meant a redistribution of roles in the back row with Willem Alberts starting at No 8 in his 13th international.
“It was a huge sense of relief to be able to select Bryan and Andries and the medical staff must be given their credit,” opened the coach in Mendoza.
“After yesterday we thought Bryan wouldn’t play, but he is in and it is great to have some continuity. We also thought Marcell Coetzee might be in trouble, but he is OK and will play on Saturday. They all came through their fitness tests.”
With regards to Keegan Daniel being demoted to the reserves, Meyer was adamant that given Argentina's style of play, he would be used as an impact player.
“Keegan is a great player, he’s had a great Super Rugby, but the first match was very physical, specially the first 60 minutes, so I just thought that it would be great to start with Jaques as it will be a physical game. And later in the game when it opens up, Keegan is a better impact player than Jacques.
“We need to stop their mauls. Jacques is a physical player and we expect a physical game, again.”
Another bonus will be that the Springboks will have two ball-carriers in the back row. “If we were playing Australia, then Keegan would have started. It was horses for courses. I need more ball-carriers against Argentina.”
Meyer knows that Argentina will be tougher opposition at home, yet plans no major changes to the way his team will play.
“It is always difficult playing the same team back to back. When I was more inexperienced as a coach you changed things depending on what the opposition wanted to believe. I now believe you have to force your game plan.
“Los Pumas are much better than what people give them credit for.”
With regards to the few days already spent in Mendoza, Meyer was very happy. “I’ve travelled all over the world as a coach, and this is probably the place where I’ve been the most welcomed. On behalf of the Springboks and South Africa I would like to thank the local people.”
It might not be such a friendly place on Saturday afternoon. The Zonda wind – which comes down the Andes Mountain range that lies to the West of Mendoza – is expected to hit town in the next 24 hours and bring cold weather and some rain. Despite this, the weather on match day should be fine.
“Test match rugby is about winning. What is great about test-match rugby is that every aspect is a battle. For the rugby purist that looks for things in a game there was a lot in it in Cape Town.
“You are only as good as the opposition allow you to be,” concluded Meyer.
The Springbok team to face Argentina in Mendoza is:
15. Zane Kirchner (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 16 caps
14. Bryan Habana (DHL Western Province) 78 caps
13. Jean de Villiers (captain, DHL Western Province) 76 caps
12. Frans Steyn (The Sharks) 50 caps
11. Lwazi Mvovo (The Sharks) 5 caps
10. Morné Steyn (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 38 caps
9. Francois Hougaard (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 19 caps
8. Willem Alberts (The Sharks) 12 caps
7. Jacques Potgieter (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 2 caps
6. Marcell Coetzee (The Sharks) 4 caps
5. Andries Bekker (DHL Western Province) 25 caps
4. Eben Etzebeth (DHL Western Province) 4 caps
3. Jannie du Plessis (The Sharks) 34 caps
2. Adriaan Strauss (vice-captain, Toyota FS Cheetahs) 13 caps
1. Tendai Mtawarira (The Sharks) 36 caps
16. Tiaan Liebenberg (DHL Western Province) uncapped
17. Pat Cilliers (MTN Golden Lions) 1 cap
18. Flip van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 15 caps
19. Keegan Daniel (The Sharks) 4 caps
20. Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, N Ireland) 55 caps
21. Pat Lambie (The Sharks) 13 caps
22. JJ Engelbrecht (Vodacom Blue Bulls) 1 cap