Heyneke Meyer

Francois SteynHeyneke MeyerJust how will Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer go into any international this year without the boot of Frans Steyn?

The big midfielder underlined his importance with four massive penalties and a conversion for a total of 14 points as the Cell C Sharks returned to the top of the Vodocom Super Rugby table with a 25-12 win over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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Heyneke MeyerNick MallettSouth AfricaSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer will start his international season by going head to head against his friend and former boss Nick Mallett at Newlands on 7 of June.

The South African Rugby Union confirmed that the Springboks will open their international season against a World XV – coached by former Springbok coach and SuperSport rugby expert Mallett before heading into tests against Wales and Scotland in the June international window.

The game will be at Newlands – and not the Cape Town Stadium – as initially reported with tickets going on sale Monday for the clash, priced at R250 and R350.

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Victor MatfieldPieter-Steph du ToitFormer Springbok captain Victor Matfield’s role ahead of this year’s international season has taken on vital importance, especially with the season-ending injury to Cell C Sharks player Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Matfield, who starred in the Vodacom Bulls’ win over the Blues a fortnight ago, will now feature even more prominently in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s plans for the upcoming season, especially with the dearth of five locks around the country at the moment.

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South AfricaThe Springboks will face 2013 Six Nations champions Wales in two Tests in Durban and Nelspruit during the Castle Lager Incoming Series in June, followed by a once-off international against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

The fixtures were confirmed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday.

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South AfricaHeyneke MeyerWhen Heyneke Meyer’s second season as Springbok coach came to an end a few weeks ago, it represented the halfway point between World Cup cycles, with less than two years remaining until the kick-off of the next global showpiece event in September 2015.

After a year which saw the Boks end with a success rate for the season of more than 80 per cent, only the third time it had happened in the post-isolation era, Meyer should have been well pleased with the progress his team has made since the nervous beginnings against England at home in June 2012.

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South AfricaHeyneke MeyerThe Springboks have made South Africans proud in 2013, with 10 wins from 12 Tests, the only blight on their record 2 losses against the world’s No 1 side, the All Blacks from New Zealand. South Africa beat France on the weekend by 19 / 10 at Stade de France in Paris, capping off an undefeated tour.

But let’s put those 2 losses into some perspective… in New Zealand the Springboks were on the wrong side of poor reffereeing by Romain Poite, the French referee in charge of that match, resulting in the fact that the Springboks had to play 48 minutes without Bismarck du Plessis. In those circumstances, the Springboks were still highly competative and probably the most pleasing part was that the Springbok forwards dominated large parts of the game. The Springboks lost that one though, as the slow All Black poison came through for the home side in the end.

In South Africa it was do or die for the Springboks… go out and score 4 tries against the All Blacks and win by more than 7 was the challenge in The Rugby Championship, a tall order indeed! The Springboks managed their 4 tries but once again the slow poison of New Zealand worked in their fafour and they came back from behind in the last quarter to score their fourth and ultimately their fifth try, to also beat the Springboks.

So, well done to the All Blacks… and while we’re at it, well done on an All Black season of 14 wins from 14 Tests, what an enviable record, New Zealand certainly deserve the No 1 world crown at this juncture in time!

The positive side of the coin however for the Springboks is that South Africans, and the world in general, now realistically give the Springboks a chance against the All Blacks in every Test match, even away from home. Having looked at results on the End Of Year Tours by both the Springboks and All Blacks, it can also be argued that the Springboks had a slightly better tour north compared to the All Blacks, specially with the All Blacks only managing a last gasp win against Ireland with a try long after the hooter had sounded for full time on Sunday night. The Springboks also only conceded 1 solitary and fortunate try on the whole of the tour up north, whilst the All Blacks conceded far more.

Looking to the future of Springbok rugby, Heyneke Meyer said after the weekend’s Test against France that Jean de villiers will stay Springbok captain in 2014 and the total message out of the Springbok camp is that the Springboks will now aspire to the No 1 ranking spot in world rugby, from 2014 and thereafter.

That certainly implies that Heyneke Meyer wants to and needs to beat the All Blacks… but it does not stop there, seeing as the Springboks want to go to No 1, notwithstanding  how or what the All Blacks do.

The Springboks certainly have improved their chances in 2013 to aspire to a World Cup win in 2015, in fact they are fast becomming joint favourites with the All Blacks in the race to this title.

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South AfricaExperienced backline stars JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are back in the Springbok team for Saturday’s Castle Lager Outgoing Tour opener against Wales in Cardiff, while Frans Malherbe will make his Test debut at the Millennium Stadium.

In naming his side for Saturday’s Test against the current Six Nations champions, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has decided to hand Fourie his first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.

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Nick MallettSouth AfricaFormer Springbok coach Nick Mallett has backed current coach Heyneke Meyer NOT to rest his key players on the end of year tour, despite the risk of player burn-out.

Speaking to BallzRadio, Mallett said that the Springbok Tests should take precedence over the Currie Cup and Super Rugby, and said franchise coaches should take responsibility for managing players better. Mallett also praised Sharks Director of Rugby Brendan Venter as one of the few coaches using proper player rotation.

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South AfricaSiyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni is one of four uncapped players who will join three stalwarts of the Rugby World Cup winning squad of 2007, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie and Bakkies Botha, in 32-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Wales, Scotland and France.

It will be Botha and Fourie’s first involvement with the Springboks since the previous Rugby World Cup, in 2011 in New Zealand, while Pietersen is back in the squad for the first time this year.

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ABSA Currie CupSharksDHL WPWith The Rugby Championship now done and dusted, the Springbok players involved look set to be returning to their Provincial Unions and respective overseas Clubs to continue plying their trade.

This of course leaves Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer a worried man and wishing he was in the fortunate situation which the All Blacks coach finds himself, where the All Black players will rest some more before the November Internationals start (of course there is still the matter of a Bledisloe Cup encounter between the All Blacks and Wallabies to consider on 18 October).

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Heyneke MeyerFollowing his victory over Australia in Brisbane, Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok win-record is the second best in the modern era.

Following a shaky start to his Springbok coaching career in 2012, Heyneke Meyer’s stocks have soared, with his Springbok team currently enjoying a run of nine consecutive victories.

But can Meyer make it the perfect 10 against the All Blacks in Auckland this weekend?

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Dr Craig RobertsHeyneke MeyerThe Springboks emerged from Saturday’s massive 38 / 12 victory over the Wallabies in Brisbane with no worrying injuries to report.

The new week presents new challenges against the New Zealand All Blacks, the number one team in the world but it appears that Heyneke Meyer will be able to name an unchanged side for this important clash.

There is an air of happyness in the Springbok camp, yet a groundedness, knowing the challenge they will face in New Zealand, where wins is almost as scarse as chicken teeth.

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Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, 2013

Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, 2013

Gesels jy op ’n gewone oggend met Heyneke Meyer sal dit jou dalk opval dat daar onder die goeie maniere en vriendelikheid waarskynlik ’n paar senuwees en ’n bra intense persoonlikheid ook is.

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Fourie du PreezSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer welcomed the calming effect Fourie du Preez brought to the team ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.

The veteran of 62 Tests has been called into the Springbok squad for the first time since the Springboks’ quarter-final defeat to Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

“I was very impressed with Fourie du Preez today (Monday), I always knew he was a world-class player and it’s been an honour for me to coach him since he was 19-years-old,” Meyer said.

“He hasn’t lost anything.

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South AfricaThis Monday morning the overseas contingent of the Springboks joined the squad in preparation for The Rugby Championship and this weekend’s game against Argentina. This after the Pumas have already been in camp for a month and having just completed 2 vital warm-up games against a strong New South Wales Barbarians touring side, just winning the first encounter and then doing a real demolition job on the NSW Barbarians side on the weekend, winning 58 / 12.

Of course the Springboks firstly have to come to grips with the new scrum engagement sequence, something we saw this past weekend in The Currie Cup Premier Division matches, which caused quite a stir.

During last week Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira sat out with a hamstring twinge, Coenie Oosthuizen had the flu and Jannie du Plessis was nursing a light calf strain, so it’s fair to assume not a great deal of scrum preparation work could be done.

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South AfricaFourie du PreezGurthro SteenkampDuane VermeulenThe Springbok selectors have opted for continuity when they named a 30-man squad for the opening two rounds of The Castle Lager Rugby Championship later this month against Argentina.

Only three players who were not part of the Springbok squad which won the Castle Lager Incoming Series in June have been added to the squad.

They are experienced scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who has been selected for the Springboks for the first time since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, Gurthrö Steenkamp (prop) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8), who last played for the Springboks in November 2012.

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