England in SA
Boks way off their best - Meyer
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says his players have not come close to their potential, and he expected a marked improvement in the second Test against England at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.
"I’ll be honest this team is not five percent where I want them to be," said Meyer at the team announcement on Wednesday.
"I don’t believe a coach is such a great coach to make such a great difference in two weeks.
"There is a lot of luck involved and a lot of great players, so I don’t want to take credit for that."
While Meyer only had a few days to work with the team before the first Test, he felt the players were more relaxed in the build-up to the second match.
"I think the side is much more relaxed this week and training was much more sharp and better," Meyer said.
"We need to improve and the mentality needs to be there and we need to get to the field with the same physicality and same mind set.
"England will definitely up their game, so we also need to up our intensity."
Meyer, however, said the team could not only bank on good training sessions for an improvement on Saturday.
"The second week has been much easier training wise but it is not just a matter of training we need to put this into practice on game day," he said.
Meyer and his new look Bok side have passed their first test when they beat the English Roses 22-17 in Durban last weekend.
The Springbok mentor opted for continuity in his team selection by making only three changes to the match 22.
The only change to the run-on side is at fullback, where Pat Lambie replaces the injured Zane Kirchner.
Lambie replaced Kirchner after half-time last week and will play in his 13th Test for South Africa.
On the bench, Werner Kruger comes in for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen, while Bjorn Basson takes over from Lambie among the replacements.
"Obviously we want some continuity in the team and I thought the guys played reasonably well. We’ve got high standards and want a better performance on Saturday," said Meyer.
"As a start the youngsters have done really well and we want to keep some continuity.
"So I am very happy with the side and the guys [who] come in know the game plan, and when they come on they will make a huge difference."
Injuries had a minor influence on Meyer's plans and he said while the loss of Oosthuizen was a massive blow, Kruger was a worthy replacement.
"It was a difficult decision because I said I want impact players on the bench and Dean Greyling is an impact player and ... a loosehead as well," he said.
"I’ve opted for Werner, because Jannie (du Plessis) has been struggling with a slight injury in the week so I want cover for him there."
While Kirchner's tactical kicking ensured his inclusion for last week, Meyer said Lambie had different skill-sets that will come in handy.
"Patrick brings different attacking options to the party, and I was very impressed in training this week, where he showed some brilliant touches on the ball," said Meyer.
"I think he will bring something different to the backline."
Meyer said England's successful shift in game plan in the latter part of last week's match suggested they would change their tactics for this weekend.
"I think England will change a lot of their tactics, probably keep the ball more in hand and move us around. Because they did well when they did that," Meyer said.
"We want to concentrate on the way we want to play and it is important that we lift our standards for the second Test."
15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger , 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Bjorn Basson