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Meyer forecasts 'invincible' future for Boks

2015-10-31 07:18
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)

London - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said his side could become "invincible" after they finished their Rugby World Cup with a 24-13 third place play-off win over Argentina.

While falling short of the standards Meyer set for the two-time world champions, third place represented a recovery given South Africa started this tournament with a shock 34-32 loss to Japan -- the biggest upset in World Cup history.

South Africa pushed defending champions New Zealand close before losing 20-18 in last weekend's semi-final.

But with several Springboks still in their early 20s, including lock Eben Etzebeth who scored a try against the Pumas and flyhalf Handre Pollard, who kicked 14 points in the match, the future appears bright for South Africa.

"Having been so close I think this team can be invincible going forward," said Meyer. "In four years, even another year, they will be a different team."

Whether Meyer will remain in charge, however, is still an open question.

"I truly believe you shouldn't let compliments go to your head, and you shouldn't let criticism go to your heart," said Meyer of the flak he endured following the Japan loss.

After the semi-final defeat, Meyer said Friday's bronze medal match at London's Olympic Stadium was like "kissing your sister".

He explained that remark by saying: "If you drop your standards as coach, and you're happy and jumping up and down with third place you shouldn't be the coach of South Africa."

Meyer, criticised for bringing back Victor Matfield out of retirement last year, paid tribute to the veteran lock, who played his last Test on Friday.

"He's one of the greatest to ever play the game," said Meyer.

"Some people dream dreams but don't have the character to make them come true. He took a chance and came through."

Meanwhile Matfield insisted: "It was definitely worth it. After the Japan game something special happened.

"We were one (match) away from competing for the trophy. The guys picked themselves up," added Matfield, the Springboks' captain for the day.

The one sadness for South Africa on Friday was that Bryan Habana squandered several chances to score the try he needed to break the World Cup record of 15 he shares with retired New Zealand star Jonah Lomu.

The 32-year-old Habana, whom Meyer said he took off 13 minutes from time because of cramp, is unlikely to feature at the 2019 World Cup.

But Matfield said: "If I can play until 38 he can probably play another four years.

"Bryan is an outstanding player, equalling (Jonah) Lomu is a fantastic record. Probably tonight, he wanted it too much. There were so many opportunities where he was so close."

Habana is the leading non-white Springbok of his generation and Matfield said of his fellow 2007 World Cup winner: "What he means for South Africa off the pitch is even more valuable than what he does on the pitch.

"It was a real pity he couldn't get that record."

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