Durban - Heyneke Meyer has revealed his thought process in separating the highly-rated centre pairing of Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel for this weekend’s Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Kings Park.
Just how the Springbok coach was going to accommodate a fit-again Jean de Villiers in his midfield had been a major talking point after De Allende and Kriel provided much reason for optimism in midfield against the World XV, Australia and then New Zealand.
Meyer’s solution on Wednesday was to move Kriel to the wing while selecting De Villiers outside De Allende at 13.
“It was a very difficult decision. I thought they (Kriel and De Allende) were brilliant as a combination, especially with Handre as well,” Meyer said at Wednesday’s team announcement.
“But Jean (De Villiers) has been great for us and it’s not just what he adds on the field, it’s what he brings around him.”
Meyer said he had thought long and hard about how best to accommodate De Villiers.
“There was also a question of bringing Jean from the bench, but you want to start a player like that to see where he is,” the coach said.
“I opted at one stage to put Damian on the wing, because he’s played there before.”
But Kriel would be the one to move.
“He (Kriel) is great under the high ball... and Damian and Pollard are really combining well now, so I want to keep them there.”
Meyer is also hoping that having De Villiers back will boost his side’s defensive capabilities.
“Defensively, we haven’t been that astute at 10, 12 and 13... so he (De Villiers) brings that little bit of defence,” said Meyer.
“You want to bring your captain in. There’s only two games until the World Cup, but you also want to keep improving Damian and Jesse.
“Jean has been managed well and he’s a competitor. I want to give him as much game time as possible over the next two games. It’s just great to have him back in the team. He’s on a mission to win the World Cup and it rubs off on the team.”
Saturday’s clash kicks off at 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Jesse Kriel, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lwazi Mvovo