Boks ‘most ambitious’

2013-09-12 00:00

THE compliments have been flying around Auckland this week with All Black flyhalf Dan Carter labelling the current Springbok team as the most ambitious he has seen.

The top two teams in world rugby will meet head-on at Eden Park on Saturday, and yesterday Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer predictably named an unchanged squad of 23 for the Rugby Championship international.

Meyer was also delighted to field media questions about the Springboks’ positive approach rather than the hoary old ones about his conservative coaching style.

This week, Carter popped up to praise the Springboks for their fresh expansive approach. “Looking at the way they’ve been playing, they’re in great form because they’re using the ball a lot more than they have in the past,” Carter said of the Boks, who have scored 31 tries in their last six Tests.

Meyer said he was “flattered” by Carter’s remarks.

“I’ve always admired Dan Carter,” he said with a smile, “and I wish he would go and tell the South African public that.

“I’ve always been criticised for my conservative game plan, but nothing much has changed. It depends on the day, but if you want to beat the All Blacks, you have to play total rugby. If you are one-dimensional against them, they will work you out.”

He said he would take any win on Saturday at a venue where the Boks last won in 1937.

“I would be satisfied with the ugliest win in the history of the game against the best team in the world. But Test match rugby is about taking opportunities and absorbing pressure,” Meyer said.

“The strange thing is that I’ve always coached the same game plan. Sooner or later you start to score tries if there is continuity in selection and the guys start to take their opportunities.”

Meyer said the selection of an unchanged squad was easy after last week’s win over Australia but emphasised that the players would all have to “take a massive step up” if they were to beat the All Blacks.

“We’ve got a great amount of respect for the All Blacks, not just as a nation, but for what they’ve achieved and what they represent. This is the best team in the world that we are facing. This is an unbelievable challenge.”

Meyer resisted the temptation to replace Flip van der Merwe with Juandré Kruger to improve the quality of the Springbok line-out.

“The 23 players who did duty against Australia deserve another chance this week, as we believe in rewarding good form. It is a well-balanced team to face a huge challenge.”

The Bok coach said that the All Blacks, as world champions, had no weaknesses.

“We will have to do our best in every single facet of the game. They’ve been together for a long time and have a lot of experience, which is why you can’t gamble on selection. You have to go with the best team you believe in — you can’t just focus on one area.

“Flip and all the forwards have to be good on Saturday. We have to be good in every single area, especially the breakdown and off the ball as well. There will be a lot of tackles to make, and we need to work even harder off the ball to stop their attack.

“We had a good win last weekend, but that is in the past now,” said Meyer. “Playing the All Blacks in New Zealand is the ultimate challenge in rugby.”

Carter told reporters that veteran centre Ma’a Nonu would return to the starting line-up when the All Black team is named today. Sam Cane will be at the open side flank in place of injured Richie McCaw and it is expected that Liam Messam, back from injury, will take over from Steven Luatua on the blindside.


15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Willie le Roux, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Jean de Villiers (capt), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morne Steyn, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Flip van der Merwe, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Gurthrö Steenkamp, 18. Coenie Oosthuizen, 19. Juandré Kruger, 20. Siya Kolisi , 21. Jano Vermaak, 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Jan Serfontein.

Kick-off: 9.35 am (SA time).

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