New Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer finally put to bed months of media speculation over the possible return of retired lock Victor Matfield.
Speaking to the BBC Radio 5 live Meyer confirmed the legendary second row forward will not be involved in a playing capacity.
Matfield, who featured in a record 110 Tests for South Africa between 2001 and 2011 before retiring after last year’s World Cup, could become involved as a line-out advisor.
Despite all the media speculation linking the 35-year-old Matfield to a return as Bok captain, Meyer has never publicly stated that he will bring the lock back.
At a recent Bok planning camp in Cape Town Meyer told a media scrum he will consider all his options.
“As for Victor [Matfield], I have never made a statement about Victor,” Meyer said at the Newlands camp earlier this month, adding: “I know there has been a lot in the media, but I have said that I will look at every single player that is available to me.”
Speaking to the BBC this week Meyer confirmed that there will be no comeback to the playing field for Matfield.
However, Meyer added that he would consider World Cup-winning scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who is contracted to Japan champions Suntory Sungoliath but recently said that he is available if needed.
The Bok mentor said South Africa side will not underestimate the challenge posed by England when the teams meet in a three-Test series next month.
“There’s a lot of respect for England,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
“They started slowly at the Six Nations, but grew stronger and stronger during the tournament.
“England will be a great challenge. They have done brilliantly after the World Cup and I’ve been impressed with the way they fought back and the character they showed.
“You don’t beat France away from home if you’re not a great side.”
Meyer said that his squad for the home Tests may mirror that of opposite number Stuart Lancaster’s in containing more youth than experience.
Experienced Springboks duo Schalk Burger and Juan Smith are currently injured.
And he fears other star players could pick up injuries in the Southern Hemisphere’s Super Rugby tournament, which does not start its break until a week before the Test series begins.
In the final round of matches before the lay-off, four South African sides will go head-to-head.
The Lions host the Sharks, while the Bulls play the Stormers.
Meyer will then assemble his first South Africa squad three days before the first Test with England in Durban on 9 June.
“There’s a big concern about the lack of time we have to train together,” he said.
“That’s why it’s difficult to pick a side because there will be injuries after those derbies.
“It’s not an ideal situation but you can’t make excuses. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us but the guys are really motivated.”