Meyer includes rusty new caps

2012-08-30 00:00

TIMES are desperate and coach Heyneke Meyer has taken desperate measures in ignoring advice and including two “rusty” new caps in his 28-man Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship internationals against Australia and New Zealand.

The debutants are Western Province number eight Duane Vermeulen and Free State Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen, who are both returning from extended injury breaks.

Dropped from the 22-man squad which saw action against the Pumas in Mendoza last Saturday are Sharks captain and flank Keegan Daniel and Bulls centre JJ Englebrecht.

Meyer has also recalled the Bath-based flank Francois Louw and Western Province centre Juan de Jongh.

Vermeulen, who has spent most of the year on the sidelines, has had a total of 100 minutes of rugby in two Currie Cup games since being cleared to play, while the talented Goosen, following shoulder surgery, played for 50 minutes for Free State against Griquas on Saturday before being replaced.

Allister Coetzee and Naka Drotské, the Western Province and Free State coaches, were both opposed to the idea of their players being rushed back to play Test rugby.

“Duane is probably a game or two away from getting back to his best,” Coetzee said.

“I know he wants to give his all when he is called up, but Duane knows he has to play his way back to match fitness. Right now he’s probably good for a 10-minute performance at Test level.”

Drotské had much the same to say about Goosen’s selection.

“Johan was rusty [against Griquas]. I don’t think he should be called up to the Springboks just yet. I’m not just saying that out of a Free State viewpoint, but rather because he is a young player who has been out with a big injury for four months. What use will it be to make him play in difficult conditions in Australia and New Zealand? It just doesn’t make sense.”

But Meyer, describing the pair as world-class players, is convinced they will benefit from the tour and said they would have been in the Bok team earlier had it not been for injury.

“Duane would have been a Springbok long ago if it were not for injury. I also believe Johan has a long career ahead of him at Test match level and we will expose him when and how we feel it will benefit the player and the team best.

“Both have played Currie Cup rugby since their return and after consultation with their respective provincial medical teams, we’re confident that they are ready to travel with us.”

He admitted that Coetzee and Drotské had advised him that the players should rather have more game time in the Currie Cup.

“But we don’t have a lot of time to prepare and we need to get them used to our structures and game plans.”

He said that Juan de Jongh and Francois Louw would bring experience to the squad.

“They both played at the Rugby World Cup last year. Juan covers both positions in the midfield and we opted for Francois because he is a specialist open side flanker, in the absence of Schalk [Burger], Heinrich Brüssow and Siya Kolisi. He is also a very useful option in the lineout.”

While Meyer has been hampered in selection by the many injuries, he said he remained positive about the future. “We were not happy with our performance in Mendoza. We are making no excuses for what happened there but we have to look forward and get ready for our tough match against Australia in Perth.

“Untimely injuries to Bismarck du Plessis, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Pierre Spies, JP Pietersen and Bjorn Basson have already hit us hard in the past few weeks. But this again provides opportunities for other players.

“I’m very excited with the quality of young talent coming through — Eben [Etzebeth], Marcell [Coetzee] and Johan [Goosen] are all still U21 and that bodes well for the future of Springbok rugby.”

The Tests are against Australia in Perth (September 8) and New Zealand in Dunedin (September 15).

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