Boks in UK
Boks put Bakkies on stand-by
Bakkies Botha in Toulon colours (AFP)
Cape Town - As the Springboks prepare to travel to Europe for their end-of-year tour, coach Heyneke Meyer has confirmed that Bakkies Botha will also be on stand-by for their tour along with Marco Wentzel.
News broke on Wednesday about Wentzel being a possible go-to man in the event of injury and Meyer has now confirmed Botha is also being put on stand-by.
"If we get an injury at (number) four, Bakkies [Botha] would be the stand-by man, but for five we’ve looked at Marco Wentzel," said Meyer during their training camp in Cape Town this week.
"I've been in contact with them and they're both on stand-by."
Wentzel received his second and last Springbok cap in 2002. He moved to Europe 2007 where he played for Leicester Tigers, when Meyer was the English team's head coach in 2008.
Wentzel now plays for another English club, London Wasps.
In the event of injury, Meyer was not planning to play any lock out of position as set-piece management might pose problems.
As a result, it was unlikely specialised number fours Eben Etzebeth and Flip van der Merwe would make the starting XV as a pairing but offered options off the deck.
"Flip has really played well this year and Eben has been exceptional," said Meyer.
"In a sense you’d love to have two guys who really put in the grafting work. (They) could be tough guys in overseas conditions.
"The set-piece is so important over there. I’d love to play them together, so maybe off the bench it could happen."
Meyer said Etzebeth had been fantastic this season but with lineouts being a technical area, a specialist number five was required.
"Eben has been brilliant but they (him and Van Der Merwe) haven’t called a lot of lineouts together, and it’s such a technical area these days.
"It requires such a lot of preparation, and we only have three (training) sessions.
"I believe we need a specialist five lock in those conditions. I did look at a guy like Johann Muller (of Ulster) for the tour but he is also injured."
Meyer still believed that experience was a vital aspect to any Test match-winning side.
Meyer felt the spate of injuries which has robbed him of several Boks was the result of them playing too much rugby.
"The players can't play Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Test matches," said Meyer.
"I have had a lot of meetings with the players. They have a social and family life as well. As things are presently, these guys are never at home.
"We will lose more and more players to overseas teams if we don't manage them properly."
Meyer believed going forward that for South Africa to become and consistently be the best team in the world, the right systems needed to be reviewed and put in place.