Heyneke wants 80% kick ratio
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer wants an even better display from his inexperienced team than against Australia last weekend as they prepare to lock horns with New Zealand in their final Rugby Championship match.
The Springboks preserved their unbeaten home record with a 31-8 defeat of Australia on Saturday and Meyer said they would have to up their game to have any chance against the undefeated All Blacks this Saturday in Soweto.
"We were clinical at times, but we'll need to be even more clinical against the All Blacks and if the game opens up, probably use the ball even more," the Springbok coach told reporters in Johannesburg on Monday.
"You will never beat New Zealand at their own game, you'll never out-run them. You have to put pressure on them, especially at the breakdown, in defence and with your kicking game."
Halfbacks Johan Goosen and Ruan Pienaar struggled with their goal-kicking against Australia and Meyer wants to see an improvement.
Goosen though, is struggling with a bruised heel and was kept out of training on Monday.
"It's important that Johan is 100 percent on Saturday because, to beat the All Blacks, you have to kick at an 80 percent success rate and our kicking hasn't been great this year," Meyer said.
Meyer firmly believes in continuity in his selection and would like to choose an unchanged team for the match against the All Blacks but injuries could disrupt the much-improved backline.
Fullback Zane Kirchner is also in doubt after injuring his hip tackling Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper though Meyer preferred to focus on a great display at the weekend.
"It was a good performance, definitely the most satisfying of the year. That was the type of rugby we want to play. Our defence was also the best it's been the whole year. We had 96 percent completion rate and only missed seven tackles.
"I always knew this first year would be tough, but winning all of our home games was one of our goals," added Meyer.
"This is a very special group of players, they've only had seven weeks of coaching and there's a lot of youth in this team."
The midfield combination of captain Jean de Villiers at inside centre and new cap Jaco Taute outside him is likely to stay as it is because Francois Steyn is being sent for surgery on Wednesday.
"Frans has quite a few loose pieces of bone in his ankle and every now and then one of them gets lodged in the joint, causing him excruciating pain," said team doctor Craig Roberts.
"As a long-term solution, we're sending him for surgery to have it cleaned out on Wednesday. Unfortunately that means he will be out for three months and he will miss the end-of-year tour," Roberts said.
Prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who was initially named on the bench for the Test against Australia after just 35 minutes of action following a neck injury, will see a specialist for a second opinion on his fitness on Tuesday.
"Again, we want to ensure we make the right long-term decision and I'm not happy with his neck, he still has some quite significant symptoms, especially stiffness," Roberts said.
Flanker Jacques Potgieter has also been released due to an abdominal strain and Meyer has called up the uncapped duo of Lions back Lionel Mapoe and Bulls forward Arno Botha.