Fourie du Preez and Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Newcastle – Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says he will adopt a “mixed approach” to his selection for the World Cup match against the United States on Wednesday.
Just by winning in London, the Boks will ensure safe passage to the quarter-finals, whilst a full-house triumph if they register four tries also guarantees a log-topping finish in Pool B.
The only pitfall is that they have a mere four-day turnaround to the closing pool game – it will be the first time in Meyer’s tenure in charge that he must prepare his team with a “half-week” of lead-up.
Asked by Sport24 at the post-match press conference following their pleasing 34-16 triumph over Scotland at St James’ Park here on Saturday how he would freshen his side for the still-crucial match at the Olympic Stadium, Meyer said he would balance the XV to include a blend of regular first-teamers and some more peripheral players.
The need to maintain some sort of experienced spine in the side will only have been heightened in the coach’s mind after the first-round shock against similar minnows Japan.
“It is very good to have got this (Scotland) game behind us; you learn hard lessons and every single one is tough.
“They (USA) will be up for this match against us, waiting for us. I watched their last game against Scotland and it was immensely physical.
“The doc (Craig Roberts) is still going through the guys; this one was physical too. It’s a short turnaround ... we travel tomorrow (Sunday), then one more day, the captain’s run and then we go again!
“I first want to study this one again and then we need to have (the right) mix of players.”
Meyer said he was caught in a catch-22 situation: “On the one hand a lot of the guys still haven’t played that much -- I thought that was one reason we had a very slow start to both the Rugby Championship and this tournament – but some of those guys, third game in, are starting to build World Cup momentum now.
“Yet you also don’t want to start losing players (to injuries). On the one hand you need some fresh players, but you also want to keep building some game-time for others. I think it will be a balanced approach (to selection) for Wednesday, and we have to make that call as soon as possible.
“We have to be humble, keep our feet on the ground and realise it will be another tough scrap.”
The Boks are due to reveal their match-day squad for the USA fixture on Monday (18:00 SA time) at their base on the outskirts on London.
It has been a trend at the World Cup for teams playing games only about four days on from a prior one to be particularly conscious of “rotating” their tight five resources, in particular, so the Boks may provide starting opportunities for Wednesday to players like Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit and perhaps either of Adriaan Strauss or Schalk Brits at hooker.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attending the Bok pool phase of RWC 2015 to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.