Edinburgh - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says he has been clear on the team that will take the field in the final Test of the tour against France in Paris next Saturday and nothing that happened at Murrayfield on Sunday has changed his mind.
According to the supersport.com website, Meyer, chuffed with his team’s comprehensive 28-0 win over Scotland, reminded the media at the post-match press conference that he is a man who does a lot of planning, and that he had been clear when the team departed from South Africa on the selections he would make for each game.
“I do a lot of planning and I am clear in my mind what I want. What is important is that the players also know where they stand, and they are a great bunch of guys who have accepted rotation selections where they are necessary,” said Meyer.
Three players came off with varying injury problems, with Frans Malherbe being the most serious. The prop was helped from the field in the first half and was replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen, who scored the fourth try against a Scotland team that was outplayed initially but stuck gamely to its guns in the second half.
“The news on Frans is not so great as he has a suspected rib cartilage injury and that means the chances aren’t great that he will be able to play in Paris next week,” said Meyer.
However the young Western Province player appears to be the only major injury concern, with loose-forwards Francois Louw and Willem Alberts both likely to start the week under a little doubt but expected to be ready for the weekend. Louw was stretchered from the field later in the game with a neck injury, but Meyer said it was only precautionary.
“Francois was put on a stretcher as a precaution, but I am told he will be fine. Obviously he will still have to be monitored closely. In Willem’s case we are concerned about his shoulder and as you know he was doubtful for this game, and we brought him off early to protect that injury. He should also be fine for Paris.”
Meyer was understandably pleased with his team’s emphatic performance in conditions that he welcomed given that he wants his players tested ahead of the World Cup to be played in the northern autumn of 2015.
“We will take four tries to nil in a test match any day of the week and I thought we produced a good performance in this match,” he said.
“We knew what to expect from Scotland. They are physical and hard, and we knew they would have worked at halting our driving, so I must give credit to Johan van Graan, the forward coach, for the way changed our drive set-ups.
“The lineout was another area we worked hard on, and it paid off with our performance in that phase in the first half. I thought Bakkies Botha was awesome in that sphere of the game. Unfortunately we didn’t get much ball from the lineouts later in the game when it was wet, which was frustrating. But we played well when we needed to. We wanted to put pressure on them early because we expected it to rain in the second half.”
The win takes the Boks to a nine win in 11 start synopsis for the year, and 12 wins in the last 14 matches, and Meyer said he would love to complete the year with just the two losses to the All Blacks as the only blemishes on his team’s record since the start of the last November tour.
“If we win in Paris it will give us an 80 percent plus record for the year, and there has not been many occasions when the Boks have managed that in the post-isolation era, so I will be very happy with that. The good thing is that it is a happy squad, and I think the character and team spirit was shown again in the last few minutes when we did a lot of defending.
“I wanted to work on our defence, and the fact that we kept the Scots to no points is pleasing. We have now scored seven tries on this tour and the opposition hasn’t crossed our line. That is a tribute to both our organisation and our attitude.”
Scotland coach Scot Johnson admitted that his team had been outplayed from the first whistle, when the Boks carried the ball through several phases in a hand to hand build-up that lasted for nearly three minutes.
“It was two different teams to the ones that played against each other in Nelspruit earlier in the year, and the Springboks have obviously grown during the course of the Rugby Championship, whereas we are really only at the start of our season now,” said Johnson.
“They were secure from the first minute onwards. I think we showed that when we were able to keep possession we could hold them, but they are a very skillful try. They showed that skill by scoring off turn-over ball from 60 metres. They are also a fine mauling team, and you don’t have to be a rugby rocket scientist to know that is one of their massive strengths.
“We had some lineout issues in the first half, and that put us under heaps of pressure. I told the guys at halftime that we had dug ourselves into a big hole and we needed to dig ourselves out. The Boks did score quite early in the second half but I thought generally we were a lot better in the second 40 so I suppose you could say we dug quite well. For us it is a learning experience and I thought we learned a lot out there.”