Meyer: Mammoth task ahead
Johannesburg - The Springboks are under no illusions about the mammoth task ahead them and will take an all-or-nothing approach to their final Rugby Championship match against the All Blacks, coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday.
The South Africans were targeting a four-try bonus point victory over New Zealand in Johannesburg on Saturday, and needed to prevent their traditional foes from picking up a bonus point, for the hosts to claim the trophy for the first time since 2009.
“I have a lot of respect for New Zealand, but we have to go out there and be positive. I always believe what the mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve, so we need to go out there and try and score four tries,” Meyer said in Johannesburg on Monday.
“In saying that, it is a huge challenge, but you have to take risks and the way New Zealand play can put you under pressure and force you to make mistakes.
“Obviously it will be great just to beat them, but you either go for the four tries or you don’t.”
Team doctor Craig Roberts said he had only one concern ahead of Saturday’s crunch match.
“We have the usual bumps and bruises but the biggest concern is JJ Engelbrecht, who took a big knock to his quad muscle and he’s got a big contusion there,” Roberts said on Monday.
Golden Lions lock Franco van der Merwe had been called into the squad to replace Flip van der Merwe, who received a one week ban for a dangerous tackle on Wallabies winger Joe Tomane in the weekend’s clash at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.
The second-rower was shown a yellow card during the match, but following a SANZAR disciplinary hearing earlier on Monday it was decided that he deserved stronger punishment.
“We accept the decision…those things happened and we just need to get it behind us,” Meyer said.
“Losing any player, for whatever reasons, is never ideal but Franco knows our structures and plays very well, having been part of the squad since June last year.”
Meyer admitted South Africa was thin on locks of international standard, particularly number five second-rowers.
Despite their convincing victory over the Wallabies in Cape Town, the Boks fell short of claiming the full five points from the match which would have given them a greater advantage going into this weekend’s clash.
“Australia played much better in the second half.
“The main thing was to win and I am very happy that we’ve still got a chance going into this game.”
Meyer said his charges would have to be switched-on, specifically under the high ball against the best kicking team in the competition, if not in world rugby.
“Their kicking game is probably the best in the world - it is one area where we’ve fallen behind.
"They kick and regain possession and they put you under pressure and score from there.”