Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has left the door open for former Bok captain Victor Matfield to make a stunning return to the game two years after he retired, but stressed it was up to Matfield to prove he still has what it takes to make it.
Meyer first said that he would ensure the best players would still play for the Springboks – but admitted he is worried about the lack of talent in the No 5 jersey. Meyer has selected a quartet of four locks for the tour, and will be hoping that Flip van der Merwe and Pieter-Steph du Toit show enough promise to make the jersey their own.
"I’ve always believed we need quality no 5s in this country, and if you’re good enough, and you’re old enough you can play.
"We need quality youngsters coming through in the five lock position and as a coach he has done a great job in helping guys come through the system as well.
"Only time will tell, but that is the position I’m worried about in South Africa. Pieter-Steph (Du Toit) and Eben (Etzebeth) will grow into great five locks. Flip is now getting there, but it takes time.
"The feedback I get from the Bulls is that he is still doing lineouts and still stealing ball.
"The main thing in Test match rugby is that you have to win all your lineouts and your kickoffs.
"We’ve been good in our lineouts, but our kickoffs have not been good at all.
"Victor is a pro, he will know if he is good enough and if his body has adapted.
"Fitness-wise, he has always been one of the best, he is a freak.
"If he doesn’t take it seriously and can’t play at the highest level, he won’t do it.
The Boks leave on Saturday for the three-Test tour and should they come home unbeaten they would have capped a successful year where their only losses were the two matches against the World Champion All Blacks.