Coach Heyneke Meyer has said that while he intends keeping changes to a minimum out of respect for Scotland and the need to build winning momentum, he is considering giving his regular captain, Jean de Villiers, a rest.
Meyer was responding to a press conference at the team hotel in Edinburgh on where Western Province’s inform centre Juan de Jongh stood in his plans. The omission of De Jongh, the star of his team’s recent win over the Sharks in the Currie Cup final in Durban, was one of the talking points before the match against Dublin in Ireland last week.
“I definitely want to give Juan a chance, the reason I left him out last week was just because I wanted to keep changes to a minimum from the perspective of what we needed on defence,” said Meyer.
“I haven’t made up my mind completely about this yet, and I still need to talk to a few people, but I would like to institute a rotation policy in the midfield. I thought Jaco Taute played his best test so far against Ireland, so it is a case of whether we play Jaco and Juan together in the midfield, or whether we pair up Juan with Jean.”
Asked if that meant he was thinking of leaving out his captain, Meyer said that there was a chance De Villiers would not be leading the side at Murrayfield.
“I am thinking of giving Jean a rest this week as he has been struggling a bit with that hamstring injury that has been bothering him recently,” he said.
“I still believe fullback is Jaco Taute’s best position, and would love to play him there now, but I don’t want to make too many changes for the Scotland game. I think we should be looking to build momentum, and we did not play well last time out against Ireland. I have a lot of respect for Scotland.
“They may have lost heavily to the All Blacks but it was mainly in a period of 10 minutes that the All Blacks did most of the damage. Scotland scored three tries, which is not something we or Australia have managed against New Zealand this year.”
The Bok team will only be finalised later and named on Wednesday, but Meyer confirmed that Pat Lambie would continue at flyhalf.
“He didn’t have much opportunity to stamp his authority on the game in the first half but he showed some nice touches in the second and Pat also knows he is capable of better so I would like to back him and give him a chance to gain confidence going forward by building on his performance,” said Meyer.
Should De Villiers sit out the Murrayfield test, vice-captain Adriaan Strauss, who has rapidly stamped himself as an international player of quality in the absence of the injured Bismarck du Plessis, should be the man to lead the Boks.