Heyneke Meyer (Gallo)
London - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer
said his side could become "invincible" after they finished their
Rugby World Cup with a 24-13 third place play-off win over Argentina.
While falling short of the standards Meyer
set for the two-time world champions, third place represented a recovery given
South Africa started this tournament with a shock 34-32 loss to Japan -- the
biggest upset in World Cup history.
South Africa pushed defending champions New
Zealand close before losing 20-18 in last weekend's semi-final.
But with several Springboks still in their
early 20s, including lock Eben Etzebeth who scored a try against the Pumas and
flyhalf Handre Pollard, who kicked 14 points in the match, the future appears
bright for South Africa.
"Having been so close I think this
team can be invincible going forward," said Meyer. "In four years,
even another year, they will be a different team."
Whether Meyer will remain in charge, however,
is still an open question.
"I truly believe you shouldn't let
compliments go to your head, and you shouldn't let criticism go to your
heart," said Meyer of the flak he endured following the Japan loss.
After the semi-final defeat, Meyer said
Friday's bronze medal match at London's Olympic Stadium was like "kissing
He explained that remark by saying:
"If you drop your standards as coach, and you're happy and jumping up and
down with third place you shouldn't be the coach of South Africa."
Meyer, criticised for bringing back Victor
Matfield out of retirement last year, paid tribute to the veteran lock, who
played his last Test on Friday.
"He's one of the greatest to ever play
the game," said Meyer.
"Some people dream dreams but don't have
the character to make them come true. He took a chance and came through."
Meanwhile Matfield insisted: "It was
definitely worth it. After the Japan game something special happened.
"We were one (match) away from
competing for the trophy. The guys picked themselves up," added Matfield,
the Springboks' captain for the day.
The one sadness for South Africa on Friday
was that Bryan Habana squandered several chances to score the try he needed to
break the World Cup record of 15 he shares with retired New Zealand star Jonah
The 32-year-old Habana, whom Meyer said he
took off 13 minutes from time because of cramp, is unlikely to feature at the
2019 World Cup.
But Matfield said: "If I can play
until 38 he can probably play another four years.
"Bryan is an outstanding player,
equalling (Jonah) Lomu is a fantastic record. Probably tonight, he wanted it
too much. There were so many opportunities where he was so close."
Habana is the leading non-white Springbok
of his generation and Matfield said of his fellow 2007 World Cup winner:
"What he means for South Africa off the pitch is even more valuable than
what he does on the pitch.
"It was a real pity he couldn't get