Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has explained why he decided to not include lock Pieter-Steph du Toit in his squad to face Scotland on Sunday.
The promising youngster made his Test debut when he came off the bench against Wales in Cardiff last Saturday. It was expected that Meyer would give the youngster another shot this weekend as the coach firmly believes the 21-year-old has a big future in the international game.
However, Bakkies Botha was included to start his first Test since the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He will form a lock partnership with Flip van der Merwe with Eben Etzebeth on the bench.
“It was a big decision not to include Pieter-Steph because I’d like to give him as much playing time as possible,” Meyer said.
But Meyer said that with Botha being out of the Bok fold for so long it would have been risky to start with him and Du Toit.
“If I picked Pieter-Steph alongside Bakkies then we would effectively have two newcomers. I also felt I needed an experienced player who could replace Bakkies later in the game.
“Flip recently started as No 5 lock and is playing with a lot of confidence. It was therefore an easy decision to pick these three (Botha, Van der Merwe and Etzebeth),” said Meyer.
Meyer said he was impressed with the physical state of the 34-year-old Botha.
“I’ve coached Bakkies for years now and have seldom seen him look this good. He’s lost a lot of weight, is fit and movable, and wins lineout balls. But he has to show that he’s good enough.”
Meyer also said he wanted to have more lock options at his disposal with an eye on the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
“You need five very good locks to walk the road to the World Cup tournament. It’s an area where South Africa lost a few good players.”
Meyer also said he’d like Etzebeth to play more as a No 5 lock over the next year.