Heyneke reaps benefits of ‘SA tour’
3 May 2012
The three Springbok planning camps have provided Heyneke Meyer with an invaluable opportunity ahead of the three-Test series against England.
On the final day of the third camp in Cape Town, the Springbok coach declared the exercise, and the two preceding it, a resounding success.
Over the past few weeks, Meyer has met with over 100 players across all five of South Africa’s Super Rugby franchises. It may seem excessive to include so many players in a national training group, but Meyer said it was important to make contact with each individual he considers a prospective Test player.
‘I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the rugby knowledge and intelligence of the players,’ he said. ‘Ideally I would have liked two or three weeks to spend with each group, but I suppose it’s a start.
‘I’ve had 103 one-on-one interviews, so it has been a bit hectic. I won’t be able to pick everyone, but at least I’ve been able to make contact with the players and franchise coaches, at least there is now a sense of respect.
‘I’ve never been a coach who believes in quick fixes, so we have also been looking to the future. In this sense I’ve got SA U20 coach Dawie Theron involved as well.’
While Meyer has a good idea of the group that will feature in the three Tests against England, he is satisfied that South Africa has the depth to cope should any more senior players fall foul to serious injuries in the coming four weeks.
‘With all the injuries, the team has changed a few times in my mind,’ Meyer admitted. ‘I wanted to pick more experienced players in this series, but there aren’t too many available now because of the injuries. I may have to rely on a few youngsters after all. Everybody knows they have a chance.’
Meyer has said before that he will consider South African players who are based overseas. However, on Thursday he clarified that the European season will end just as the June Test window opens, and it may be difficult to include those returning from overseas clubs.
‘They will only become available on that Monday before the England Test, and I won’t have had a chance to work with them at all. They may still be considered, but if it’s a 50/50 call between them and a local player, I may have to go with the local player.’
There are some grueling derbies scheduled between now and the start of June. The Stormers will battle the Sharks and Bulls in the two weeks leading up to the first Test. The Bulls will play that game against the Stormers on the back of a testing tour Down Under.
‘It would be unfair of me to ask coaches to rest players,’ said Meyer, who added that as a former mentor at the Bulls he has been in a similar position himself.
‘I know there will also be a lot of competition for places, and so players won’t be holding anything back. It’s tough because you want players to be competitive, but you don’t want them to kill each other right before a Test series.’
Meanwhile, Saru has announced that negotiations with five more members of the Springbok management team have been concluded.
Meyer’s assistant coaches were confirmed as Johann van Graan (forwards), Ricardo Loubscher (backs) and John McFarland (defence). Basil Carzis has been appointed as conditioning coach and Ian Schwartz will be the team manager.
Van Graan, McFarland and Carzis will join the Boks for the series against England in June and then return to the Bulls until the end of the Super Rugby competition.
By Jon Cardinelli