Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has eliminated any doubt surrounding the international future of Castres scrumhalf, Rory Kockott on Monday.
Meyer was addressing the media for the first time ahead of the Springboks' preparations for the Rugby Championship.
The supersport.com website reported that the injury to Meyer's first choice scrumhalf, Fourie du Preez has opened the door for another player to stake his claim for the No 9 jumper.
"Fourie is an unbelievable setback, by saying that I’m not saying that the other nines are not in the same class, but rather that Fourie brought a lot to our team, especially in attack.
"He was also another captain on the field and the one guy that could always pick up the right runners," the Bok coach explained.
"I don’t know if people realise that, but there was a huge evolution in our game, where we started attacking out of our own 22 metre area, and we really scored some great tries running from our own 22.
"Fourie was a mastermind in that, he knows when to kick, when to run, and when to pass, because of his experience."
Meyer has already had a meeting with the three halfbacks to inform them of what he expects, and while Ruan Pienaar is the favourite to take Du Preez’ starting role, the others certainly have a chance.
"I’ve said to the nines today we need to find the next nine, who will be going with us to the World Cup.
"We’ve tried all the candidates now, so after this I will stick with three nines going forward," Meyer said, finally ending the debate on Kockott and the Bok team.
Kockott’s name resurfaced when Du Preez was injured because particularly his kicking game, but it seems the Boks have decided not to go that route and will let him rather qualify for France later this year.
"The biggest thing we will miss with Fourie is his tactical kicking.
"He has been the best tactical kicker from nine and if you look at the games we’ve won against Australia and New Zealand, he was the nine playing.
"It is a big setback, especially that he is out for the entire year.
"You really want him to play a few games before the World Cup, because next year we only have three or four games before the World Cup.
"With that, and add the fact that Jaque Fourie and JP Pietersen are not available and suddenly there is no continuity in your backline.
"We need to find that within the first two games.”
Given the premium on finding form quickly, Meyer laid down what he expects from Du Preez’ replacement.
"It gives the opportunity for the next three to put up their hands. I want our nines to play more to the ball and to get us quick ball.
"We have brilliant nines in this country that can snipe and can break from anywhere to score tries - and that is what the public sees.
"But without sounding arrogant, we score a lot of tries through teamwork and we need a nine that can give us quick ball, even if he is probably not the best player, we need a nine that can give our backline quick, front foot ball.
"Since we’ve been working on the breakdown, we have been getting quick ball and that is why we’ve been scoring tries. We need a nine that can clean up as quick as Fourie, kick as good as Fourie and take the right options.”
Both Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard have been criticised for not clearing ball fast enough in the past, while Hougaard and Reinach fall into the category of players who like to snipe around the fringes.
Reinach’s kicking game is also in question, with the Sharks struggling to exit their half this year during the Super Rugby season.
The fact is that Du Preez isn’t available and Meyer needs a replacement.
The first one to step up and impress, ticking all the boxes may well cement a place to the World Cup.
If they don’t the closest they may get is watching it on television.