Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - A strong substitutes’ bench will be of utmost importance during this year’s Rugby World Cup, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer believes.
Meyer has selected a potent bench for Saturday’s World Cup opener against Japan in Brighton, with some experienced campaigners like Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen likely to get game time later in the game.
“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but I think we are some of the first teams who started using the whole bench and we had good results and won a lot of games doing it,” Meyer said at a press conference in Eastbourne on Wednesday.
“The bench will be very important. We struggled a bit in the (Rugby) Championship where we were leading and inexperienced players came on off the bench and we lost those games.
“(But) I think we’ve got a lot more experience in our starting team now, but also on the bench. I think it’s a very good bench, a lot of the guys are impact players.”
Having the right mixture between experience and youth on the bench will be important as the tournament progresses, Meyer feels.
“On the one side, you’ll need a bench that come on and make an impact to win a game when you’re behind, but what people don’t realise is that you’ll also need a bench with experience in order to ‘close’ the game, where experienced guys come on and not do silly and unnecessary things, and make the game slower if you’re leading.”
“So I think you need to have a combination of both - players who can make a big impact and players who know how to be calm and finish the game off.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Brighton Community Stadium is scheduled for 17:45 (SA time).
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Fourie du Preez, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 JP Pietersen