Selection conundrum for Meyer
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is facing possibly his toughest selection task to date as a number of locally based Springboks have recently taken up contracts at overseas clubs.
The selection policy from the start of Meyer’s tenure has been to give preference to South African-based players, but 10 players out of his 30-man squad are overseas.
The Springboks went into camp on Monday ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at the FNB Stadium next Saturday.
"As a Springbok coach you always want to pick your best side and I always want to look at our home-grown players first," Meyer said on Monday.
"But the main thing with picking this side was continuity, and you want to have some kind of continuity."
Meyer would have been in trouble had he followed the selection policy.
He would have had to hand out a number of new caps, which would erase the progress he had made over the last year.
"If you have to pick eight or nine new players it is a huge challenge specifically when you are playing the best teams in the world," he said.
"Argentina has been in camp for a month, so they will be a tough opener."
Meyer welcomed the return of stalwart Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.
Du Preez had been unavailable for selection since the halfback joined Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath at the end of 2011.
The 31-year-old will only be available for the three Tests in South Africa.
"Fourie (Du Preez) is a world-class player. He’s been part of my plans right from the start. Unfortunately he wasn’t available," Meyer said.
"I’ve had a lot of discussions with Fourie and he is still very keen to play for his country and I believe he is still one of the best scrumhalves in the world.
"With Francois Hougaard injured at this stage we are a little bit thin on scrumhalves, I also want to make sure that I take the best nines to the world cup."
Meyer said he would use these matches to phase Du Preez back into the Springbok setup and gauge his form.
"Fourie is a great player who can dictate the game and I believe he is a great leader and I think he can add value.
This is more a long-term vision and I want to see what Fourie can still add to the side and by next year he’ll probably be available for all Tests.
"This gives me an opportunity to look at Fourie.
"He’s available for five to six Tests and I don’t want to get in to the situation before the world cup and I don’t know who are the best scrumhalves."