Boks name unchanged side

2012-10-04 00:00

IT has been three years since a Springbok coach has selected an unchanged starting team for a Test, but Heyneke Meyer was in that happy position yesterday when he named his 15 players for Saturday’s Rugby Championship international against the All Blacks at Soccer City in Soweto.

The last time the Springboks started two consecutive Tests with the same team was in 2009 in the home victories over New Zealand (31-19 in Durban on August 1) and Australia (29-17 in Cape Town on August 8) and Meyer will be hoping that this is a good omen.

He has made one change on the bench with Coenie Oosthuizen, cleared to play after his neck injury, taking over from Pat Cilliers as the prop replacement.

“It’s always a boost if you don’t have to make any changes,” Meyer said.

There were concerns early in the week that fullback Zane Kirchner and flank Willem Alberts would be sidelined, but Meyer said that “all the little niggles had been sorted out” and all the players took part in yesterday’s practice.

“Last week’s win was very satisfying, but we all know we will have to make another step up against New Zealand on Saturday,” the coach said.

While Meyer has continuity in selection, he does not believe the Springboks can win if their goal-kickers fail to find some consistency and turn pressure into points.

The Springboks, in the five Rugby Championship internationals, have succeeded with just on half their goal-kicks (19 out of 37).

“We have to get that percentage up to 80,” Meyer said.

“We can’t think we can beat the All Blacks by just scoring tries.”

Meyer said he was still not certain who be lining up the kicks on Saturday, but he was hoping that young flyhalf Johan Goosen — who has been troubled by a bruised heel and sat out training on Monday and Tuesday — would be fit and ready to assume the responsibility.

Goosen missed his two early and awkward goal attempts against the Wallabies at the weekend and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar — who took over — succeeded with three out of seven kicks.

Meyer emphasised, yet again, that the Springboks had not changed their tactical approach and would look to run with the ball if they were able to create attacking opportunities.

“We have to put the All Blacks under pressure, and then we will look to convert our points by both scoring tries and landing our kicks, It’s only a matter of time before our kickers find their form,” he said.

Meyer said he had massive respect for the All Blacks who would be harder to beat than they were in Dunedin when they perhaps underrated the Springbolks.

“They also have Dan Carter back at flyhalf and he brings so much to their team,” he said.

Meyer welcomed the return of Oosthuizen to the match squad of 22.

“Coenie is a superb athlete, a player whom I believe has the potential to be one of the all-time greats,” said Meyer.

“You need an impact player who can produce something special when he comes off the bench, and Coenie fits the bill.”

The All Blacks will name their team early today.

Springbok team: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bryan Habana, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcel Coetzee, 20 Elton Jantjies, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Pat Lambie.

Kick-off: 5.00 pm.

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).

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