No. 10 always an issue

2014-05-27 00:00

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer is proud of the way the Sharks have flown the South Africa flag during their Super Rugby campaign and hopes they can carry their confidence into the international season that begins early next month.

The national coach was speaking in Durban yesterday, where a 36-man Bok squad is assembled for a three-day national camp.

Meyer praised the way Jake White’s men had played and successfully come back from their Australasia tour with three wins out of four to establish a five-point lead on top of the table.

“The Sharks have played well,” he told reporters at the Northwood High School where the team are training. “They play a simple game plan but they execute it well and keep guys under pressure.

“It was awesome for us to see how they went overseas, especially when you don’t win in New Zealand that often.

“I can just see the guys that have come back with the Sharks, they’ve got a lot of confidence and I hope they carry that over to the Springboks.”

The Sharks returned on Saturday night from New Zealand where they won their last match of the tour 29-23 against the Blues in Albany.

The squad were given Sunday and yesterday off ahead of their clash against the Stormers at King’s Park on Saturday.

However, 10 members had to report to the camp, including uncapped pair, lock Stephan Lewies and centre S’bura Sithole.

The others were Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo and JP Pietersen.

Captain Bismarck was mentioned by Meyer as one of several candidates for the national job as cover for the injured Jean de Villiers, who is out for two months with a knee problem.

The coach said that losing his regular skipper was a big blow, but he had faith in the leadership within the group to carry the team forward.

“I’ve never been so well prepared for this camp, we’ve done a lot of planning, the most I’ve ever done as a coach, but suddenly within one day there’s three or four players that have changed and suddenly some key parts of your team change,” Meyer said.

Meyer also took time to speak about injured Sharks lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is out for the rest of the year due to an ACL injury.

He continued, “The one guy I’m really sad is not here is Pieter-Steph du Toit. He’s out again this year and I really believe he can be a world great.”

Frans Steyn was not mentioned when the talk of who will play flyhalf for the Springboks was raised, suggesting that the stand-in Sharks number 10 will be considered solely at centre.

There are only two out-and-out pivots in the 36-man party, uncapped Lions player Marnitz Boshoff and Johan Goosen of the Cheetahs.

The former started the season well, but has since struggled, while the latter has had one injury after another.

“I don’t know why but 10 is always a tricky one in this country,” he added. “I wish we can get to a point where the 10 can just settle and play.

“But we’ve got someone like Morné [Steyn]. Goosen has always been a great player, hopefully now he’s injury free because you need a good run. Every time I feel he’s almost there, he gets an injury. He’s definitely one that I’ll look at.

“Boshoff is someone I’ve always watched and has really matured.

“Handre Pollard I’ve always rated, I just felt it’s better for him to play there at the Junior World Cup. There’s a few options there.”

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