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Heyneke Meyer

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Two injured players in the Springbok training squad, Frans Steyn and Pieter-Steph du Toit, have been temporarily released from the squad to continue their rehabilitation in Durban for the next few weeks.

Neither of them are expected to be fit for the Springboks’ 1st 2 matches of the season, next Saturday against the World XV in Cape Town and a week later against Australia in Brisbane. Steyn has a pectoral muscle tear, while Du Toit is recovering from a knee injury.

According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer the decision to send Steyn and Du Toit home was taken with the best interests of the players in mind.

“We’ve discussed the way forward with the players, and all of us agreed that the best way forward at this stage is for them to get full-time rehabilitation at their home province, while our own medical team will keep very close tabs on their progress,” said Meyer.

“Both of them are still firmly in our plans going forward for the season and I really hope they can get back onto the field sooner rather than later. I’m confident the individual attention they will receive in Durban will be a massive benefit to them in the long run.

“We won’t be taking Frans or Pieter-Steph with us to Australia and will reassess their situation when we return from Brisbane.”

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Springboks

With the International Test window just around the corner (11 July), the Rugby news in South Africa is being dominated by Springbok preparations for what lies ahead in 2015… The World XV game, the abbreviated Rugby Championship and 1 further match against Los Pumas and of course the Rugby World Cup from 18 September to 31 October 2015.

Of course, it could also be argued that we do not have anything else to talk about, because South African sides have all been done and dusted with Super Rugby for a couple of weeks already, whilst 2 New Zealand sides are still contesting it… on their ownsome lonesome!

Maybe it is a blessing in disguise though, for overall Springbok preparations, as they now have much more time to get their ducks in a row for the international scene, and to re-introduce the injured and rehabilitating players…

BUT, and it’s a big BUT… the injury list seems almost as long as the list of fighting fit candidates and that is a big concern.

In this article, we focus on what Heyneke Meyer says and feels about his chosen Springbok squad, and we have a good look at the fitness and injury update from the Springbok camp.

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SpringboksThe selection of 8 uncapped players and the return of a further 6 are the features of the Springbok squad named on Saturday for the 5 matches leading up to the Rugby World Cup later this season.

In addition to the 36 squad members, the national selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation, but will form part of an extended squad for the matches against the World XV, Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The uncapped players in the squad are Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.

Back in the Springbok fold after not featuring in any Springbok Tests last year, are Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jaque Fourie, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Heinke van der Merwe.

The currently injured players included in the squad are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jaque Fourie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. The latter suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.

“It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Barend van Graan

CEO Barend van Graan

The Vodacom Bulls are totally mum as to who could possibly succeed Frans Ludeke as their new Super Rugby head coach.

Media speculation has been rife about possible candidates for the new post in Pretoria.

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron is being mentioned as a possible successor to Ludeke, who was stood down despite having another year left on his contract.

Despite the Theron rumours, the Bulls insist no decision has been made yet.

“The Blue Bulls Company (BBC) will not comment about rumours about possible coaches mentioned in the media,” CEO Barend van Graan said.

Springbok lock Victor Matfield has also been touted as a possible head coach, as well as current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

On Saturday Heyneke Meyer will give the 1st indication of which foreign-based players will feature in the World Cup.

Meyer is set to name his squad to play a World XV at Newlands on 11 July – with Jean de Villiers set to make his comeback from injury, most likely off the bench.

But it will also be the 1st opportunity for the foreign-based players to re-introduce themselves to the local lads.

The incumbent Springbok captain, De Villiers, dislocated his patella in the South Africa’s 6 / 12 loss to Wales in Cardiff at the end of November last year and had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.

If his rehabilitation goes according to schedule, the Springbok captain will play his 1st proper match in 8 months in a Currie Cup warm-up clash for Western Province against the Pumas in Franschoek on 18 July.

Province then travel to Port Elizabeth a week later for another friendly against the EP Kings, where De Villiers is also expected to feature.

However, before that De Villiers is set to play for the Springboks in the World XV clash at Newlands for a few minutes.

There are plenty of South Africans plying their trade overseas and of course some of them could and will be selected in the 31-man squad come Saturday.

However, none of them have featured at the recent Springbok training camps.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Could Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer possibly return to the Vodacom Bulls after this year’s Rugby World Cup?

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has not yet offered Meyer an extension of his contract beyond the current Rugby World Cup.

While talks are ongoing at SARU about Meyer’s future, it is understood the Vodacom Bulls would be happy to return him and his management team to Loftus Versfeld if he doesn’t continue as Springbok coach.

The future of current Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, appears uncertain after the men from Pretoria again failed to reach the Super Rugby playoffs.

Ludeke has a contract with the Bulls until October 2016, but there are rumours he could be relieved of his coaching duties, while there is also talk of Ludeke being promoted to Director of Rugby.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

There is a method to the apparent ‘madness’ of Heyneke Meyer’s approach to the Springboks’ 2015 World Cup campaign.

Spending some time with the Bok mentor at a training camp in Cape Town this week, it became abundantly clear just how much preparation has already gone into South Africa’s campaign.

In fact the Bok coach even investigated the hotel beds the players will encounter during their stay in England in September and October – prompting media banter that the ‘Bok coach is sleeping on the job’.

However, even the massive 40-odd players at the 2 training camps – in Johannesburg last month and Cape Town this week – are part of a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure the Boks have the best possible chance of becoming the 1st country to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a 3rd time.

Meyer said the large squads are all part of his long-term plan, with a lot of the younger players that he can take forward.

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Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies

Back in the Emirates Lions starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at Emirates Airline Park, Elton Jantjies is enjoying one of his better seasons on South African soil.

The Johannesburg side are very much in playoff contention and Jantjies has become coach Johan Ackermann’s 1st choice pivot along the way.

A few rugby minds have now started wondering whether or not Jantjies has done enough to work his way into Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup plans. The smart money remains on the flyhalf slot going to either Handré Pollard or Patrick Lambie and while Jantjies has not ruled out any possibilities he chooses instead to let his performances do the talking.

“I can talk a big game but if my performances on the field don’t match up, there is no point in me saying that I want to go to the World Cup and be the 1st-choice flyhalf,” Jantjies said.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clear – the best 31 players need to go to this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Meyer began his 1st Springbok training camp with a bit of a stutter as no less than 19 of the 44 players invited to the camp couldn’t train with the Bok management. Add to that the Sharks who are overseas on tour, and there wasn’t too much training that could get done.

But despite that, the Bok coach used the time to reveal his World Cup plans to players, tell individuals what he expected of them and will use the remainder of the time to share calls, plays and get down to technical nuances for the players to take home as “homework” before they meet again in the 2nd camp in a few weeks’ time.

The final squad is only set to be selected at the end of August, when the chosen 31 will be revealed to the country for the showpiece tournament in England. But 1 thing is clear, while competition will be tough between players, only the best 31 in Meyer’s mind will be selected, meaning a number of top players may well miss out.

However Meyer has admitted that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, giving players the chance in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition as well as the camps, to make an indelible impression on him.

And with that in mind, he may have an idea of the starting line-up, but Meyer believes beyond the starting 15, the other 16 places are still up for grabs.

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SpringboksThis week, there is a lot of news, from various fronts, on the Springboks.

The Rugby Championship game times have been announced, as has the host city for the additional Springbok game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

News from this week’s Springbok Training camp is dominated by the amount of injured players at the camp as well as the news today that Flip van der Merwe has made himself unavailable to the Springboks in 2015 and also for the Rugby World Cup. The reports on the injury and rehabilitation of Springbok captain also comes under discussion, with the prognosis and likelyhood of him making the world premier Rugby World Cup competition very positive.

SARU also announced today that Rhino was appointed as equipment supplier of the Springboks.

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Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe

Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, has announced 2 sets of 44 players to participate in training camps in May and June in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively.

The squads include a total of 19 uncapped players, including rising stars Jesse Kriel, Vincent Koch, Cheslin Kolbe and Bongi Mbonami.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

He has been keeping a low public profile during the 1st half of Super Rugby’s ordinary season … and it is probably just as well.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer must be scratching his head worriedly already over how to construct his national side for the 1st assignment of the 2015 Test season, against Australia in Brisbane on 18 July as part of a condensed Rugby Championship.

Presently several Boks are either injured, suspended or undergoing rest periods (the sudden pulling of Duane Vermeulen from the Stormers’ overseas tour after only 1 match has tongues wagging despite official statements that it was “always planned”), whilst other staple characters have suffered form dips in line with the general struggles of their sides in the local conference and overall.

It is difficult to envisage any SA team actually winning Super Rugby at this point – not the ideal state of affairs in a World Cup year, even if it is not always proved to be relevant — just as it is hazardous to predict which franchise will eventually top the ho-hum domestic pile.

It is true that a few additional players like overseas-based Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw and a rehabilitating Pieter-Steph du Toit should brighten the Bok equation, fitness permitting, nearer the Test roster itself, and 1 or 2 outsiders like Stormers tighthead strongman Vincent Koch and some surprise-package Lions personnel have stuck up their hands.

Yet a look at the last Springbok line-up for a Test – the unpalatable 12 / 6 loss to Wales in Cardiff on 29 November9 last year – gives you an idea of Meyer’s quandary; things look considerably more unsettled than he would like.

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Heyneke Meyer - BokSmart

Heyneke Meyer – BokSmart

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and his SA Under 20 counterpart Dawie Theron recently renewed their BokSmart certification for a further 2 years.

Meyer renewed his certification in Pretoria last week, while Theron was joined by 3 members of the South African Rugby Union’s High Performance Mobi-Unit and Springbok coaching consultants, Pieter de Villiers, Louis Koen and Chean Roux, as well as Jacques Nienaber, High Performance Manager in the Rugby Department, in Cape Town earlier this month.

The biennial BokSmart certification is compulsory for anybody who wants to coach or referee rugby in South Africa at any level. The 3 Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, are certified until 2016 while Springbok consultant Richie Gray will renew his certification later this year.

BokSmart provides coaches and referees with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

A critical element of Heyneke Meyer’s tight-forward plans for Rugby World Cup 2015, plus his unpredictable backline talisman… already under injury scares.

If you’d told Heyneke Meyer – presumably a long way from the untelevised encounter – before Friday’s Newlands friendly between the Stormers and Cheetahs that two players falling into those categories would pull up injured in it, the ever-animated Springbok head coach might have been excused for having kittens on the spot.

But that is precisely what occurred in the pre-season affair, won 39 / 31 by the hosts in an otherwise productive work-out for both teams, as Eben Etzebeth and Willie le Roux fell foul of the curse.

Oddly, the more alarming of the incidents, on initial viewing, appeared to affect fullback magician, Willie lLe Roux, during the 2nd half – and he had only got on the park off the bench for the start of it.

But with just 7 minutes remaining, the IRB Player of the Year nominee for 2014 collapsed in a writhing heap after being tackled, clutching the area around his left ankle. To watching spectators on the fairly sparsely-populated Railway Stand, it wouldn’t have looked good at all.

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SpringboksThe International season is done for the Southern Hemisphere and for Springbok rugby for 2014 and the only rugby of real importance left for us southern rugby junkies, are the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014 – the Dubai Sevens this coming weekend and the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens Tournament the week thereafter.

In the meantime the Southern Hemisphere Super Rugby sides are extremely busy with their preparation work, conditioning and getting ready for Super Rugby 2015.

The question is, what has the Springboks learnt from the year of 2014 and from the End Of Year Tour?

Will we see a total change of tack and a move away from the high-ball kick and chase bombs from the Springboks? Very few International Tests remain before the start of the Rugby World Cup 2015 (18 September 2015) in England, however a full season of Super Rugby and the abbreviated Rugby Championship still loom in 2015 before the World Cup starts.

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo are back in the Springbok starting line-up for Saturday’s Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The changes in the back three were required because Johan Goosen, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen, who started in last weekend’s victory over Italy in Padova, are not available this week. The two changes to the front row are rotational.

Adriaan Strauss, who started at hooker in the victories over England and Italy, moves to the bench, where he will be joined by Trevor Nyakane and Damian de Allende in the only other changes to the match-23.

“This tour has been a good test of our depth and we’re looking forward to see what the team can do on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Twelve months ago the Springbok talent cupboard looked bare – with a dearth of back-up in several key positions.

Now, less than 10 months out from the start of the World Cup, South African coach Heyneke Meyer believes he has ‘plugged all the gaps’.

Speaking after his team’s hard-earned 22-6 win over Italy in Padua at the weekend, Meyer said he is “very happy” with the state of the Boks’ player resources.

Tighthead prop and fullback were among the two positions where depth was a major concern, but the added bonus of Nizaam Carr’s outstanding debut means Meyer’s already well-stocked loose forward resources have an additional arrow in the quiver.

“I said Nizaam was running great lines in training (last week),” Meyer told a media scrum.

“The test was to take that into a Test match where there isn’t a lot of space and he came through with flying colours.”

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby shortly after the Test.

“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward. “He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Rugby World Cup winners JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger will start Saturday’s second Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against England at Twickenham as the Springbok match-23 is retained from last weekend.

The five changes to the team are straight swaps between the starting line-up and the bench. Along with Pietersen and Burger, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has handed starts to hooker Adriaan Strauss and the halfback pair of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie.

Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Teboho Mohoje and Bismarck du Plessis will start on the bench.

“We’ve accepted our performance against Ireland last weekend was not up to scratch and everyone in the touring squad has put up their hands and dug deep this week,” said Meyer. “We’ve really worked hard at fixing the mistakes we made and the challenge is now to put that into action on Saturday.”

Meyer said the changes were not a knee-jerk reaction following the result in Dublin, but rather in line with rotational changes that he had in mind before the start of the tour.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has warned his team they will need to be at their best if they are to keep their unbeaten record under his management in the Northern Hemisphere intact.

Meyer singled out the team’s first fixture against Ireland as a crucial one to kick off the team’s four week tour, and one which is the most tricky of all their fixtures.

While England has been singled out before as the fixture the Boks are likely to hold in the highest esteem, especially with next year’s Rugby World Cup being played there, the Boks know they cannot focus on the Twickenham showdown before getting past the tricky Irish, who have been a team that has plagued them at this time of year under previous coaches.

The Boks didn’t play Ireland when they went north last year, but the Irish will still be smarting from coming amazingly close to beating the All Blacks in Dublin last year, as the New Zealanders snatched the game away from them in the dying seconds to end their season unbeaten.

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SpringboksSouth Africa has set themselves the ultimate benchmark, beating none other than the All Blacks during their last outing, and the pieces very much seem to be falling into place for Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks.

It has been heady stuff for the second ranked Test nation, playing impressive attack, while their relentless carpet bombing of the ruck contest has been driven by the Meyer tendency to pick giants in the back row – and this has been a key area of their ability to match New Zealand.

This is a template that the team will only look to develop, while their squad balance is remarkably similar to their great rivals, with Meyer introducing new talent to complement some of the most experienced players in his country’s history.

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The Springboks concluded a week of intense training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Friday as their preparations for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales stepped up a gear.

A total of 31 players took part in the training camp after prop Marcel van der Merwe withdrew due to injury.

Amongst the squad were four uncapped players in Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Boela Abrahams (scrumhalf) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), who were invited to get a taste of what Springbok rugby is all about after impressive performances for their provinces in the Absa Currie Cup.

“We had a good week and the players really worked very hard on the field and in the gym,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The emphasis was on conditioning and we also paid a lot of attention to detail on and off the field. It was great to have time to work on these things before we embark on what will be a very tough tour.

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

South Africa finished second overall courtesy of their Ellis Park derring-do against New Zealand, and for but five points, the collective margin of defeat against the Wallabies in Perth and All Blacks in Wellington, it could have been a massive celebration for the team.

Admittedly the eventual champions boasted a 49-point difference advantage over the Springboks, but if the South African’s 4-2 ledger had been 5-1 (bonus points wouldn’t have come into the equation), the trophy would be theirs.

The victory is Meyer’s 24th in 33 Tests (a 73% winning mark), closes the gap in the IRB rankings (versus one and two) to just over two points, while the Republic boasts nearly a five point advantage over newly promoted England in third.

South Africa’s four wins and two losses equalled their return from last season, and their overall ten victories in The Rugby Championship’s history over 18 Tests gives them a three win lead over Australia (from 2012-2014) and second over the last three years (All Blacks 16-1-1).

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has taken time off his busy schedule to answer some of your rugby related questions.

Meyer’s Springbok team just finished their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign with a famous win over New Zealand at Ellis Park.

The Q&A session once again proved very popular with our readers with hundreds of questions streaming in. We picked out the widest possible range of questions to put to the Springbok coach.

Here is what he had to say:

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

No overseas-based players will be available for the Boks’ end of year Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

The Springboks’ end-of-year tour itinerary includes Tests against Ireland in Dublin (8 November), England in London (15 November), Italy in Padova (22 November) and Wales in Cardiff (29 November).

“The match against Wales falls outside the IRB Test window so our overseas-based players will not be available for that match, which will provide a good test for our depth in South Africa and I’m excited to see what a number of our younger players can do in the Millennium Stadium,” said Meyer.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer described the 27-25 win over New Zealand in the final match of the Springboks Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign as one of the best matches in which he had been involved.

The support of the sell-out Ellis Park crowd also lifted the team’s effort, he said.

“I have been involved in rugby for almost 30 years and this support was unbelievable. We saw the crowd support on the way into the stadium and the national anthem was awesome. It was an unbelievable Test match,” Meyer said.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell believes the All Blacks will have too many attacking weapons for the Springboks

John Mitchell holds concerns for the Springboks’ World Cup prospects and doesn’t believe they have the attacking threats to upset the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

After four years in South Africa, following his departure as All Blacks coach after the semifinal exit at the 2003 World Cup, Mitchell is well placed to assess the country’s changing landscape.

His main worry is the lack of youth being promoted by the Boks.

With about 250 South Africans now playing rugby overseas – the equivalent of six professional teams – Mitchell says the next generation are suffering through a lack of faith from Boks coach Heyneke Meyer, who has instead turned to aging veterans Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger.

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Heyneke Meyer, SARU President Origen Hoskins, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers with Salie Fredericks

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, SARU President Origen Hoskins, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers hand over a Springbok jersey to Salie Fredericks on Friday.

Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), accompanied by a Springbok delegation on Friday visited the recuperating former “Coloured Springboks” captain Salie Fredericks at his house in Gordon’s Bay.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, team manager Ian Schwartz, captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield accompanied Mr Hoskins, as they wished Mr Fredericks well with his recovery from surgery.

Fredericks, who was labelled as the “Black Frik du Preez” by some newspapers in his playing days, played more than 200 provincial matches for Western Province in competitions of the former South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, and later the non-racial and anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

The formidable presence of No 8 Duane Vermeulen could be missing from the Springbok arsenal when they play their final Rugby Championship match of the year against the All Blacks at Ellis Park next Saturday.

Vermeulen left the field late in the second half with a rib injury, and with Schalk Burger having already come onto the field for Teboho Mohoje, that meant that a lock, Victor Matfield, had to take up position on the side of the scrum.

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SpringboksSPRINGBOKS

Meyer Praises fit, gutsy Boks

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Saturday applauded the fitness and never-say-die attitude of his team in defeating Australia 28-10 in the Rugby Championship at DHL Newlands.

The Springboks scored three tries in the last ten minutes to seal a bonus point victory.

“We played great rugby at times in the first half, but their defence was great. We became a bit frustrated because of that, but in the second half the fitness levels and impact from the bench was massive for us; I told our conditioning coach Basil Carzis as much afterwards,” Meyer said.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje looks on during Springbok training

The player at the centre of a race storm surrounding the Springboks says he has no choice but to ignore the controversy created by his selection.

Rookie breakaway Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje was named ahead of 71-Test veteran Schalk Burger to start against the Wallabies this weekend and was thrust headlong into a fierce debate over the politics surrounding rugby in South Africa.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Even as he spoke at Wednesday’s press conference here, a stiff north-wester – so often the city’s rain-preceding wind – howled and dark clouds engulfed Table Mountain, not from the end that characterises the trademark lilywhite summer “tablecloth”.

Yet a notably recurring theme from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was his wish for a precipitation-free Castle Rugby Championship Test match against the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was left visibly frustrated and annoyed his side had failed to end the All Blacks’ five-year winning streak in New Zealand.

Deep down, however, he knew the mistakes that had been made could be rectified and the youngsters in his team would only be better for their tight 14-10 defeat to the world champions in Wellington on Saturday.

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Cornal Hendricks

Silver lining: Cornal Hendricks scored an excellent try.

The Springboks put a positive spin on their narrow defeat to the All Blacks in a bruising encounter on Saturday, saying they learnt valuable lessons a year out from the World Cup.

The 14-10 defeat in Wellington all but ended the Springboks bid to prevent the All Blacks claiming the Rugby Championship trophy for a third successive year.

It also came at a price, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar out for up to eight weeks with knee ligament damage and a question mark over flanker Francois Louw, who suffered an arm injury.

But in the plus column, coach Heyneke Meyer saw a valuable return from his gamble to play 20-year-old Handre Pollard and 21-year-old Jan Serfontein against the top side in the world.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer knew he had rolled the dice in selecting rookie flyhalf Handre Pollard to play against the All Blacks, but was pleased the 20-year-old had proved he was worth the gamble.

Pollard hardly put a foot wrong in his fourth test, and first against the world champions, driving the Springboks around Wellington Regional Stadium, producing a superb inside pass to set up their only try and providing a solid kicking game.

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