Bok midfield combination excites Meyer

2015-07-10 10:39
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - The Springboks launch a five-match countdown to the Rugby World Cup on Saturday with coach Heyneke Meyer praising debutant centre Jesse Kriel.

After a season playing at fullback for the Bulls, the 21-year-old gets his big chance wearing the No 13 shirt against a World XV at Newlands stadium in Cape Town.

The only mild disappointment for the exciting runner is that caps will not be awarded as the match is not considered a Test.

"Jesse is an unbelievably exciting player and I have always rated him highly," said Meyer, a coach not prone to false praise.

"He is probably among the most talented players I have coached and this is a great opportunity for him.

"I think he could go on to become one of the best outside centres South Africa has produced.

"Jesse has got acceleration that you do not often see.

"I like my No 13 to be able to take the outside gap, which not a lot of them can do."

A believer in experience, the Springbok handler has shifted his faith to youth at centre and flyhalf for the clash with a World XV skippered by retired Springbok lock Bakkies Botha.

Kriel, 21, will partner Damian de Allende, 23, at centre with another 21-year-old, Handre Pollard, the playmaker.

"They are obviously going to make mistakes having never played together," conceded Meyer.

"But whatever they lack in experience can be made up in excitement."

Meyer is equally excited about inside centre Jean de Villiers coming off the bench during the second half for his first match action since a horrific knee injury eight months ago.

As the 34-year-old was stretchered off during a Test loss in Wales, many Springbok supporters doubted they would see him wearing the green and gold again.

"I never thought he was going to be back for this game," admitted Meyer. "He has really worked hard to be here.

"Jean is an inspiration to all South Africans. If you have a dream, anything is possible."

Including De Villiers, 12 of the possible World Cup starting line-up could play at Newlands. Injuries rule out scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, flank Willem Alberts and No 8 Duane Vermeulen.

South Africa began last season with a 47-13 triumph over a World XV, but Meyer believes it could be tougher this time.

"With the core of this World XV coming from Toulon, they will be a well-oiled machine who do not need a lot of time to find their feet," he warned.

"Bakkies knows how we play and I must make some adjustments - but that is what international rugby is all about."

South Africa play Australia in Brisbane on July 18, New Zealand in Johannesburg on July 25 and Argentina in Durban on August 8 in a shortened 2015 Rugby Championship.

A Test in Argentina on August 15 completes the match countdown ahead of World Cup Pool B clashes with Japan, Samoa, Scotland and the United States during September and October.



15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 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 Oupa Mohoje, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jean de Villiers

World XV:

15 Delon Armitage, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 David Smith, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Bakkies Botha (captain), 4 Ali Williams, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Alexandre Menini, 18 Petrus du Plessis, 19 Flip Van der Merwe, 20 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Rudi Wulf


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