Springboks

Meyer respects Fourie's stance

2012-04-19 15:02
Heyneke Meyer (File)

Pretoria - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Thursday that he understood star centre Jaque Fourie's reasons for making himself unavailable for the Springboks this year.

GALLERY: Lions and Cheetahs at first Springbok Planning Camp

The 29-year-old Fourie, who has been capped 69 times for South Africa since 2003, announced on Wednesday that he was unavailable for the Springboks while he completes the second year of his contract with Japanese club Kobelco Steelers.

"I respect Jaque's thoughts in not making himself available but it's a pity because he's close to being the best outside centre in the world and he was definitely an integral part of my plans," Meyer told reporters in Pretoria.

"But it's very important that the players I choose are focused on the South African cause and want to play for the Springboks. If there's pressure from their overseas clubs, then I understand," Meyer told reporters in Pretoria on Thursday.

The new Springboks coach said the door was not closed to Fourie to make a return ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"I'd like to speak again with Jaque in two years time, because we'll be going into our World Cup plans and I hope he can still be there then," he said.

Meyer, who had just completed the first of three planning camps with potential Springbok players, drawn from the Cheetahs and the Lions, said there was plenty of talent at his disposal to replace senior players who were not available.

"The absence of players like Jaque is great for the youngsters and even the more experienced guys," he said.

"I've told the players that even if they're 29 and haven't yet played for the Springboks, that they still have a chance of being chosen."

"There were one or two players at this camp that I haven't worked with before and I can see that they are great players. There's enough depth in South African rugby," Meyer added.

"I've had one-on-ones with every player and they know where they stand and I now understand their roles in their franchises and why they do certain things. I have much more insight into them, which is great, and they know exactly what I want."

Former Blue Bulls and Leicester coach Meyer said he had concerns over the number of injuries to experienced Springboks who were potential successors to retired captain John Smit.

"There've been a lot of injuries - guys like Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Jean de Villiers are all out of action - while there's been speculation about Victor Matfield playing again.

"I'll announce the captain the week before the first England Test and he'll be captain only for those three Tests."

Meyer announced a list of 45 players from the Bulls and Sharks, who both have Super Rugby byes next week, to attend the second planning camp in Pretoria from Sunday to next Thursday.

Read more on:    springboks  |  heyneke meyer  |  jaque fourie  |  rugby
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