Heyneke Meyer’s nemesis

2014-08-10 15:00

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The All Blacks will once again be Heyneke Meyer’s bugbear when the 2014 Rugby Championship kicks off on Saturday.

In a repeat of the home-away-home sequence that worked so well last year, Meyer’s Springboks will be up against Argentina just as the sun is setting on Loftus Versfeld.

But it would be a surprise if the coach did not delay the team’s departure from Sandton until after 2pm.

The reason?

The All Blacks will be playing against the Wallabies in Sydney at noon and Meyer probably won’t be able to tear himself away from the TV set.

Apart from being the champions for the past two years, the All Blacks will be 80 minutes away from claiming the longest-ever test-match winning streak among Tier 1 nations by scoring their 18th consecutive victory.*

The All Blacks, who have twice reached 17 straight wins, jointly hold the record with the Springboks (who achieved the feat under Nick Mallett from 1997 to 1998) and Meyer will be doubly interested in how they fare because he has never beaten them.

Since Meyer’s tenure began in 2012, he has an exceptional record of 20 wins and two draws in the 27 tests in which he has been in charge.

On the four occasions he’s met the All Blacks, he has failed to register a win.

As with last year, the Boks will have two tests against Argentina, in Pretoria and at a new venue in Salta (a city in northwestern Argentina), before taking on big guns Australia and New Zealand down under next month.

The Pumas will be an unknown quantity on Saturday. After taking a 73-13 thrashing at FNB Stadium last year, they were close to scoring a massive upset before going down 17-22 in the return game in Mendoza.

But they have since undergone a transformation as they prepare for next year’s World Cup.

New coach Daniel Hourcade has selected a squad with a blend of youth and experience, many of whom were part of the outfit that won the Vodacom Cup in South Africa two seasons ago. And he has appointed a new captain in Agustín Creevy, in spite of the presence of two former captains in the squad in Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamón.

*?The winning record of all rugby-playing nations is 23, held by Cyprus

BOX:Argentina squad:Backs: Joaquin Tuculet, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, Manuel Montero, Horacio Agulla, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Marcelo Bosch, Nicolas Sanchez, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Juan Martin Hernandez, Martin Landajo, Tomas Cubelli.Forwards: Juan Fernandez Lobbe, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Pablo Matera, Leonardo Senatore, Rodrigo Baez, Tomas Lavanini, Mariano Galarza, Matias Alemanno, Marcos Ayerza, Ramiro Herrera, Lucas Noguera Paz, Bruno Postiglioni, Nuhuel Tetaz Chaparro, Matias Cortese, Agustin Creevy (captain).Saturday’s fixtures:12:05: Australia vs New Zealand (ANZ Stadium, Sydney); 17:05: Springboks vs Argentina (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria).

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