Roof open, Boks pray for rain

JP Pietersen (Gallo)
JP Pietersen (Gallo)

It would seem anathema to the previous Springbok coaches and teams that have visited Cardiff and prayed for the inclement weather to stay away, but if there is one thing the modern tourists would like to see on the menu for Saturday’s Test against Wales, it is rain.

According to the supersport.com website, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer told a press conference in Cardiff at the start of the build-up week to the Test against the Six Nations champions that he will not be asking for the Millennium Stadium roof to be closed for the game.

Instead he would like his players to be exposed to the elements that they may well be encountering when they return to the United Kingdom for the World Cup in two years time.

It is all part of Meyer’s “sink or swim” mantra for the tour - he wants to see which players can make it in the environment they will face at the World Cup, and which won’t. As he says, he wants the mistakes to be made now, and not when it really counts in 2015. And if that means jettisoning the players who don’t come through on this tour, so be it.

“I have always said there is no such thing as bad weather, only soft players,” said Meyer.

“I will be disappointed if the skies are clear. I want to use this tour to Test players in the condition they can expect at the World Cup. I want to see who is mentally tough enough to brave the cold and the rain, and who is not. I want to see which players get stuck in when the weather is bad because the rain will certainly strike in most games of the World Cup. So the more rain on this tour, the better.”

For the Millennium Stadium roof to be closed for a game, both coaches have to agree. Meyer said he won’t agree, so regardless of what Wales coach Warren Gatland might want, it looks as though Saturday’s game will be played in the wet if, as predicted, the rain clouds move in over the Principality at the weekend.

Meyer has said that he will be giving fringe players an opportunity to play on this tour, thus departing from his continuity in selection policy for this trip as he starts to build his depth and grow his squad for the World Cup.

“I do not regard this as an end of year tour, but rather a new start in the quest to see which players are up to playing at the required level in difficult conditions against three very tough teams,” he said.

“I have always said that as a Springbok coach the most important thing is to win every test match, but at some stage you have to have an eye on the World Cup, which is undoubtedly the highlight of the four year cycle. You cannot just hope that the team will come together over the four years, at some stage you have to start putting things in place. That time is now.”

If Meyer is true to his word and does give fringe players opportunities, there could be some mixing and matching in selection for the second match against Scotland in Edinburgh.

“Regardless of what happens against Wales there are players I want to give an opportunity to in that game,” said Meyer.

The Bok team for the Wales Test will be named on Wednesday and is expected to include Japan based backline players JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie, with JJ Engelbrecht and Willie le Roux the men set to drop out.

Lourens Adriaanse, the tough as teak Griquas tighthead destined to play for the Sharks next year, is likely to replace the injured Jannie du Plessis in the front-row.

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