Meyer sticks to the Boks’ game plan

2012-06-14 00:00

COACH Heyneke Meyer has kept to his word and refused to tamper unnecessarily with the Springbok team for the second Test against England at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Meyer has made just the one enforced change to the starting line-up with Sharks fullback Pat Lambie taking over from the injured Zane Kirchner.

There are two changes on the bench, again because of injury, with Bulls wing Bjorn Basson in for Lambie and another Bulls player, prop Werner Kruger, replacing Free Stater Coenie Oosthuizen, who has been sidelined for three months with a damaged neck.

Meyer has ignored the second-half evidence at King’s Park when Ruan Pienaar, replacing Francois Hougaard, looked sharper and technically more sound at scrumhalf. Hougaard was uncomfortable kicking from the base of the scrum and was often sluggish in clearing the ball to his backs.

Brave and quick, Hougaard is an instinctive player — which is why he has been so effective on the wing — but he appears to have become bogged down in instructions and playing the right tactical game at scrumhalf.

Meyer has another perspective.

“I’m happy that we’ve kept the majority of the team together after that first game,” he told reporters yesterday. “They’ve now spent some time together and have a good understanding of the game plan. It’s important to build continuity. Having said that, it was a blow to lose Coenie. I had plans to eventually play him as a tighthead, and not just as an impact player either.”

Meyer has chosen Kruger to replace Oosthuizen because of his strength on the tighthead.

“We looked at our options and decided Werner was our best bet because Jannie du Plessis [who starts at tighthead] is struggling with a bit of an injury. I want us to be well covered.”

Meyer said Basson would give the Boks more options than the exciting Gio Aplon, who was called into the squad on Monday.

He said that Aplon had not played much at fullback where either Frans Steyn or Basson could provide cover.

While most observers outside Pretoria would have Lambie as their first-choice fullback, and he proved the point in the second half in Durban on Saturday, Meyer does not agree and said the Sharks player had to improve his tactical kicking. And last week Bok and Bulls backline coach Ricardo Loubscher said Lambie was more of a flyhalf than a fullback.

“I have worked with Zane for a long time and I know he is a very good tactical kicker,” said Meyer. “That is an area in which I want Pat to improve. He’s very good under the high ball and while he’s not the biggest guy he’s a good defender. We don’t lose much with Pat coming in. I’m very confident he will do well at the back from a kicking perspective as well and he has been working hard with [kicking coach] Louis Koen.”

The Test kicks off at 5 pm.

Springboks – 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Bjorn Basson.

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