Johannesburg - Springbok head coach Heyneke Meyer believes backline trio Handre Pollard, Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel will be future legends of South African rugby.
Meyer named the flyhalf and centre pairing in his starting line-up for a third straight match.
They started against the World XV and the Wallabies over the past fortnight, and retained their places in the run-on side for Saturday’s match against the All Blacks in Johannesburg.
Meyer admitted that the youthful backs have committed mistakes, but stressed that they have shown massive potential for the Springboks so far.
“On attack, they have been brilliant. Yes, they have missed a few tackles on defence, but I knew this would happen,” Meyer told MyPlayers.co.za. “They face a big Test against the All Blacks this weekend. New Zealand have some big ball carriers, and their midfield is a big source of momentum.
“They will need to improve on defence to stop the All Blacks, and that won’t be easy. This will be their ultimate test.”
Meyer predicts that Pollard, De Allende and Kriel will be future legends of the game.
“Jesse has shown plenty of class. Pollard has been great, and is still finding his feet,” said Meyer. “Damian has also shown great form this season and has played very well so far.
“They are always excited to play and are really up for this weekend’s challenge. Against the All Blacks, they will challenge themselves against the best. I believe in the next three to four years, all three of those players will emerge as the greats of world rugby.”
Meyer’s opposite number, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen concurred.
“All three of those players are very good athletes,” said Hansen. “Damian de Allende is a big strong boy at No 12, and Jesse Kriel showed last week that he has some gas. Handre Pollard has the potential to be something special at flyhalf.
“I hope to see Jean de Villiers back in action soon, but once the younger players come through, I think those three are going to be the way forward. Then there’s a player like Pat Lambie, who brings something else to the game. SA Rugby has great and exciting depth.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa
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