Meyer: Du Preez is a rugby genius

Fourie du Preez and Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Fourie du Preez and Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has heaped praise on new captain Fourie du Preez as they prepare for a Rugby World Cup clash against Scotland on Saturday.

The 33-year-old scrumhalf was on Wednesday named as the 56th Springbok captain, taking over from Jean de Villiers, who was forced out of the tournament after suffering a jaw fracture against Samoa last weekend.

With lock Victor Matfield sidelined with a hamstring niggle, Du Preez may not remain captain for the entire tournament, but Meyer is confident that the soft-spoken former Blue Bulls ace will do a good job.

“It’s not easy to lose Jean and Victor, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in Fourie,” Meyer said at a press conference in Newcastle on Wednesday.

“I’ve coached him since he was 19 years old and even back in the day I was astonished about his rugby knowledge. I always believed then he will be a rugby genius and he is a rugby genius.

“He is respected worldwide because of his knowledge about the game and if you look at the history of South Africa, wherever Fourie has played - even when he left for Japan - those teams always won. When Fourie played well, the team won. He’s a tactical genius.”

Du Preez is not your stereotypical Springbok captain. He is introverted and soft spoken, but has the respect of his team-mates.

“Fourie is not a guy with a lot of words, not like me, but he’s a true warrior and that’s what we’re going to need... the players respect him,” said Meyer.

“When he’s on the field he’s a natural leader and it comes naturally to him.”

Flank Schalk Burger will be the vice-captain and will also have an important role to play, Meyer insisted.

“The great thing is that Fourie and Schalk are also great friends. I had meetings with the senior players, with Schalk and Duane (Vermeulen), and they’re going to help him (Du Preez). Schalk is also a great captain...”

Saturday’s clash at St James’ Park - the home of English football side Newcastle United - is scheduled for 17:45 (SA time).

Teams:

South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (vice-captain), 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein

Scotland:

15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 David Denton, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 WP Nel, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid

Substitutes: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont

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