Meyer: We won't be Baa-Baas

2014-06-02 05:00
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – South Africa will wish to avoid falling into a fast and loose “Barbarians” style of play when they tackle the World XV in their first international of the season at Newlands on Saturday.

Coach Heyneke Meyer told Sport24 at a press briefing here on Sunday that he saw the game as an important preparatory device for the challenge of Wales in the first of two more conventional Tests a week later in Durban.

He also said he was still thinking about the captaincy, given the absence at present of Jean de Villiers, who was seen on crutches at the team hotel: “I don’t want to make a too-hasty decision ... I’m almost there but must still speak to the relevant people; I think I can tell you tomorrow (Monday).”

Asked how differently he regarded the match culturally against the Nick Mallett-coached global combination, to the more usual hallmark of beginning the June window with an orthodox Test between two nations, he explained: “On the one hand, yes, it’s a friendly but at the same time many people expect the Boks to go out and smash people by 50 points every time we take to the field!

“Of course ideally you also want to try some things in your first match of the year ... a lot of guys (there are seven new caps in the squad) have never been with us before.

“The great thing about this match for me is that it’s a very, very tough World XV; probably one of the toughest of its kind I’ve seen.

“They will obviously come out with nothing to lose, and play. What’s important for us on the day is to stick to our structure; you don’t want to go out there and play a Barbarians type of game. That’s the sort of thing you do at the end of a season, and it’s all about the spectacle.

“Saying that, we do want to play great rugby and I’m very proud we scored the highest number of tries per Test match last year, which is 3.9, so that’s amazing and the team must take the credit.”

But Meyer is clearly already thinking ahead to the two-Test visit by Wales.

“Although you want to be able to look at certain combinations, you also want the squad to get a game under the belt properly, because I truly believe Wales, our next opponents, are a quality side with very big backs and physical forwards.

“I also sometimes think they’re better playing on dry pitches, like they’ve shown in Australia. So they are a quality team and this (the World XV encounter) gives us the opportunity to at least get a game behind us and that’s important.”

Elaborating on his likely treatment of new faces in the 36-strong Springbok squad, Meyer said: “One or two of the (new players) will definitely make their debuts, mostly off the bench so you don’t throw people in from the deep end, though there could also be a start or two among them.

“You can’t overload new guys with game-plans, calls and moves ... it’s tough for them to get in play.

“But I wouldn’t have picked them if I didn’t believe in them.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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