The Sharks’ advancement to the Super Rugby semi-finals has meant the Springbok squad announcement for the upcoming Rugby Championship will be slightly delayed.
The SA Rugby Union on Wednesday announced that there are lingering injury concerns over certain players which will see the 30-man Springbok squad only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.
French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.
Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.
Rassie Erasmus’ biggest role as high performance manager is to implement Heyneke Meyer’s plans across the board.
Erasmus, widely praised for his work in turning Western Province rugby around, was spotted at the Coca-Cola Craven Week in Middelburg. Having joined Saru as high performance manager in April 2012, Erasmus has been working tirelessly to implement a new structure in South African rugby, building a team of coaches, analysts and medical staff that can help develop the country’s best young talent into potential Springbok candidates. Craven Week plays an integral role in this development, something that Erasmus is well aware of.
Winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup was a momentous occasion for Springboks but it has done little for the development of the way rugby is played in South Africa.
I believe that the so-called ‘Jake White template’ has been detrimental to South African rugby on a number of levels.
Let me start by saying that I can’t fault White’s tactics in 2007. Given the weapons at his disposal, the approach he adopted was spot on. The efficacy of this approach (when correctly executed) is not in question. My aim here is rather point to the consequences of the mindset that in has become enrooted in SA rugby because of it’s (limited) success.
What concerns me is that the territory-based and defence-orientated approach employed back then has been widely adopted in the Republic and in many quarters is still held up as a blueprint for future success.
From a coaching perspective, it’s not difficult to see why this methodology is popular. Giant men imposing themselves with hard, straight running and big hits have always been the hallmarks of the South African style.
The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!
Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!
Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.
Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.
The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.
With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.
The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.
At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!
The running joke may be that Heyneke Meyer is selecting his best side for the 2007 Rugby World Cup with the number of Springbok veterans in his side, but the inclusion of Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje for Saturday’s Test against Scotland may suggest otherwise.
The versatile loose forward had experienced a meteoric rise in his career and could make his Springbok debut playing off the bench against Scotland in Port Elizabeth only a few months after playing Varsity Cup rugby for Shimlas.
While a patch of grey hair in his primary school years secured him the Afrikaans nickname “oupa”, meaning grandfather, the versatile forward is anything but a geriatric.
Tank Lanning, former WP tighthead prop and head of Tankman Media has an interesting look at the Springbok team chosen to play against Scotland as well as the words of the uber-opportunist, Oregan Hoskins earlier this week regarding supposed instructions to Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
This is pretty much they way I feel about it too and for once I am able to agree with something Lanning said, without hesitation!
Good piece, Tank!!
Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the Springboks’ match-23 for Saturday’s final encounter of the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
In total, the Springbok starting team shows six changes from the side which beat Wales by 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.
The four uncapped players on a new-look bench are Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf). Also on the bench are Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any Test rugby yet this season.
Two players, Pollard and Marcell Coetzee, have not yet featured for the Springboks this year, while four of these are replacements who have been promoted to the starting team, namely Lwazi Mvovo, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Port Elizabeth will be markedly different from the one that edged Wales in Nelspruit, by necessity rather than design.
With seven European-based players unavailable for selection and at least another two starters ruled through injury Heyneke Meyer’s hand will be forced when he names his team to face an under-strength Scotland.
However, the idea that Meyer should completely overhaul the team and give promising youngsters a shot because the match falls outside the June Test window and Scotland will not have their best team on the park is a little bit misguided.
South African coach Heyneke Meyer dished out a swipe at the ongoing criticism of Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn.
The 55-Test veteran was a pivotal player in the Boks’ 38-16 (5 tries to 1) demolition of Wales in Durban at the weekend, but still haven’t convinced his detractors that he is the real deal.
Not only did he produce a 100 percent goal-kicking performance (5 conversions and a penalty), but the 37 times he handled the ball he kicked just 10 times – with 21 passes and 6 runs.
The Bok coach, Meyer, pointed out that the high attrition rate among flyhalves makes Steyn an even more valuable asset to the national team.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had every reason to be beaming on Saturday night as he reflected on a performance against Wales that spoke volumes about how far his team has travelled since he took charge in 2012.
In the end a sloppy second half and a more committed Welsh defensive line saw to it that the Boks didn’t complete the massacre that threatened at halftime, when the hosts led 28-9 and had already scored four well taken tries. Just 10 points were added after the break against a Welsh try to George North, but who would quibble about a 38-16 win over Wales.
It was the most complete performance turned in at the weekend by the big three southern hemisphere teams, and was arguably better than Australia’s annihilation of France the previous week. There was always going to be a step up in the Bok performance once the test matches arrived and they’d left the ambiguity of playing a World XV that included several of their countrymen behind, and they provided it.
It was at the same Kings Park a just a week out from being a year ago that the Boks first started to show indications that under Meyer they weren’t going to be stuck in the conservative rut they had been in the previous season. They thumped Italy fairly comprehensively, and afterwards everyone was talking about the pace that had been injected out wide.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer praised his team’s character and commitment in Durban after they defeated Wales 38-16 in the first of two tests in the Castle Lager Incoming Series at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.
The coach admitted that they had a tough week leading up to the Test match, as they had to take to the field with a number of new combinations and debutants.
“It was a tough week with a lot of disruptions. I asked the guys to put their bodies on the line today as it was important for us to start well. I am very pleased with their response and effort, especially in the first half. I am very proud to be coach of this team,” Meyer said.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says he has faced some of his toughest days in the job recently, leading up to the announcement of his team to play Wales in the first of two Tests in Durban on Saturday.
“It’s definitely been the toughest few weeks for me,” Meyer said in Durban on Wednesday.
“You plan for five months, you can’t wait to get going and then suddenly you get curve balls from all over.”
“It’s been tough … losing some quality centres within the space of a week or a week and half.”
The South African camp was hit by the news of Francois Steyn’s withdrawal from the squad late on Tuesday.
South Africa’s Player of the Year in 2010, Gurthrö Steenkamp, will make his 50th Test appearance for the Springboks when they take on Wales at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday (kick-off 17:00 SA Time, 15:00 GMT).
Steenkamp has been included in the starting line-up for the first Welsh Test in one of six changes to the match-day squad from the team which comprehensively beat the World XV last weekend in Cape Town, four of which are positional shifts.
Cornal Hendricks, who shone for the Springboks last weekend at DHL Newlands, will make his Test debut on Saturday, while his provincial team mate from the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, the uncapped Lood de Jager, has been selected on the bench.
The two changes in the backline are at inside centre, where Jan Serfontein will earn his first Test start for South Africa, and scrumhalf, where Fourie du Preez will start with Ruan Pienaar on the bench alongside Tendai Mtawarira, who has swapped places with Steenkamp.
The Springboks completed a successful first match of their season on Saturday against Nick Mallet’s World XV at Newlands but the first proper international action for them starts this weekend as the Castle Lager Incoming Series gets underway with a Test against Wales in Durban on Saturday.
There often is debate and criticism about the make up of squads that Northern Hemisphere countries send on these mid-year tours which take place after their taxing domestic seasons. This year though the two teams due to play against South Africa have got good reason to be fielding teams which are going to be under strength in certain areas. The Test against Scotland falls outside the international window and so their players who ply their trade outside Scotland will not be making the trip over. The tour for Wales has been made much harder due to numerous injuries, no least to inspirational captain Sam Warburton.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was pleased with his team’s 47-13 win over a star-studded World XV at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
The Springboks scored six tries and gained a lot of momentum in the second half of the match, going into the second 40 minutes leading 18-13. This bodes well for next week’s test match against Wales in the Castle Lager Incoming Series.
Meyer warned that the test match in Durban will be another big step-up for his team, as Wales are a settled team after playing together during the Six Nations.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is not worried about the lack of game time flyhalf Morné Steyn recently got in France.
It was widely reported that Steyn had struggled for form at his French club, Stade Francais, which led to him spending the majority of the past season on their bench.
However, Meyer says Steyn did not fall out of favour with the Paris-based club’s coaches.
“The overseas clubs manage our players carefully and most of them have a rotation policy,” Meyer was quoted as saying.
South Africa’s Sevens Player of 2013, Cornal Hendricks, will make his debut for South Africa in the 15-man code next to ten players who started in the Springboks’ final Test of 2013 when they face a star-studded World XV, sponsored by Samsung, at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).
The speedy Hendricks is the only newcomer in the team as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer opted for continuity in his team’s first match of the year.
The old firm of Bakkies Botha and interim captain Victor Matfield are re-united in the second row. JP Pietersen moves to outside centre. Schalk Burger makes a return to the side for the first time in two and a half years while Frans Steyn, Schalk Brits, Lwazi Mvovo and Johan Goosen are also back after playing no Test rugby last year.
Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks in the Castle Lager Incoming Series this month in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers – and he will lead them out for the first time since his return to rugby in Saturday’s match against a star-studded World XV, sponsored by Samsung, at Newlands (kick off 17:00 SA Time).
On Rugby-Talk recently, debate in the comments sections between Sharks supporters and other South African supporters often turned and revolved around Jake White’s management or mismanagement of his core players and around the players who will have to do duty for the national side, the Springboks.
The argument often used by Sharks supporters were that the June Internationals are less important, against weakened sides and that Jake White needed to do exactly like he did, play his players week after week and arguably into the ground.
Players like Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Willem Albers and more pertinetly Francois Steyn have looked increasingly jaded and this past weekend’s Sharks loss against the Stormers was a stark reminder of the situation.
One of the regular journalists I share the Press Box at Loftus Versfeld with, Brenden Nel, of SuperSport, penned an interesting article on this same matter. I think he nails this one on the head, here is what he says:
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer may find himself considering a change in plan for the midfield he was going to select for the opening match of the international season against the World XV at Newlands due to the injury concern over Damian de Allende.
The centre suffered a knee injury during the second half of the Stormers’ 21-19 win over the Sharks in Durban at the weekend, and Meyer said on Sunday that he was concerned about his condition.
“The doctor hasn’t looked at him yet but he is limping and it appears he has suffered a knee ligament injury. I was only informed of it late on Saturday night, after the squad had been announced,” said Meyer.
South Africa will wish to avoid falling into a fast and loose “Barbarians” style of play when they tackle the World XV in their first international of the season at Newlands on Saturday.
Coach Heyneke Meyer said at a press briefing here on Sunday that he saw the game as an important preparatory device for the challenge of Wales in the first of two more conventional Tests a week later in Durban.
He also said he was still thinking about the captaincy, given the absence at present of Jean de Villiers, who was seen on crutches at the team hotel: “I don’t want to make a too-hasty decision … I’m almost there but must still speak to the relevant people; I think I can tell you tomorrow (Monday).”
Seven uncapped players, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Cornal Hendricks, Teboho Mohoje, S’bura Sithole, Marcel van der Merwe and Callie Visagie, have been called up to Springbok duty as part of a 36-man squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series next month.
The squad also includes experienced World Cup winners Schalk Burger and Victor Matfield, while there is a return to the Springboks for Schalk Brits, Juan de Jongh, Francois Hougaard, Lwazi Mvovo and Frans Steyn, all of whom last played Test rugby in 2012.
The national selectors have also kept a great deal of continuity. In total, 12 players who started the final Test of 2013, where the Springboks beat France in Paris for the first time in 16 years, have been retained in the squad.
However, notable omissions include Springbok captain and SARU’s Player of the Year in 2013, Jean de Villiers, who is out with a knee injury, and the Young Player of the Year for the last two seasons and IRB Player of the Year nominee last year, Eben Etzebeth, who has been given more time to fully recover from the foot injury which has kept him sidelined this entire season.
The Springboks will also be without one of their vice-captains, Adriaan Strauss, who has been suspended for three matches as well as the experienced Jaque Fourie, who started all three Tests last November but has been ruled out with an ankle injury and Pat Lambie, a regular member of the squad for the last two years.
The June Internationals are close at hand and Heyneke Meyer has already showed his hand to a certain extent by selecting a Springbok Training Group, which currently excludes players plying their trade in the UK and Europe.
The recent injury to Springbok captain, Jean de Villiers, now determines that a “Stand-in” Springbok captain will have to be selected and coupled to this the Springbok midfield positions are bound to be re-constituted.
Injuries to key players, specially flyhalf, as well as the 3-match suspension of Adriaan Strauss at hooker will see some juggling around of the match-day 23 and some very clear thinking will be required by Heyneke Meyer to address these issues.
We take a look at the Springbok Captaincy candidates as well as midfield combination and look at hooker options to function as back-up to Bismarck du Plessis.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will miss the Castle Lager Incoming Series next month after he was ruled out for approximately eight weeks with a knee injury.
After experiencing some discomfort in his left knee on Saturday morning, De Villiers was pulled out of the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs.
De Villiers underwent a scope in Cape Town on Sunday morning and the prognosis is that he will be out of action for almost two months. He will hopefully be back by the start of Castle Lager Rugby Championship in August.