Meyer backs uncapped trio
6 Jun 2012
Heyneke Meyer has selected three new forwards in Marcell Coetzee, Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger to start against England this Saturday.
The 21-year-old Coetzee has enjoyed a fantastic season for the Sharks, albeit in the blindside flank position. Meyer feels that the young loose forward can make a strong impact at No 6, and that he will thrive in a new Springbok back-row combination that includes Sharks team-mate Willem Alberts and the experienced form of Pierre Spies.
‘Marcell has played great rugby all year and I believe he will be a superstar in years to come,’ Meyer gushed.
While Saturday will mark his first match for the Springboks, Kruger has accumulated over 50 club caps playing for English side Northampton and has been outstanding for the Bulls in 2012. Meyer has opted to pair the No 5 with another debutant in Eben Etzebeth, who has proved himself to be a powerful player for the Stormers this season.
‘It’s unusual for the Springboks to have two uncapped locks starting, it’ll be a huge step up for them and they need to prove they can play at this level. But I’m very confident they can,’ Meyer said. ‘Flip van der Merwe and Juandre have played together so it would have been easier to pair the Bulls players, but I went for form. Eben brings something different to the party. He is physical and big and doesn’t shy away from contact and is also very good at contesting. I won’t say he is the next Bakkies Botha. He can surpass Bakkies.’
As expected, Zane Kirchner has been preferred to Pat Lambie at fullback. Clarifying his thinking around that pick, Meyer said: ‘We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. I went for combinations and guys that know each other. Pat is a great player and he can potentially make a huge difference off the bench.’
Francois Hougaard will start at scrumhalf while the more experienced and versatile Ruan Pienaar will provide cover from the bench.
However, Meyer has opted for more experience than youth in his starting backline, with two 2007 World Cup winners on the wings and another at No 12. Captain Jean de Villiers is another who was part of that 2007 campaign, if only for one match before he sustained a serious injury. Morné Steyn, the preferred flyhalf for the 2011 World Cup, is retained at No 10.
Keegan Daniel’s ability to cover all three loose-forward positions sees him included on a bench that has the potential to significantly galvanise the team in the final quarter.
‘I don’t believe in reserves, I believe in impact players. Coenie [Oosthuizen] and Adriaan [Strauss] are probably two of the best ball players in the world. They can turn a game. And Keegan [Daniel] is a guy who has proved himself and can come on at openside or at No 8. If you look at the backs, they can change a game as well, and they’ll definitely be used.’
Meyer also confirmed that Bismarck du Plessis will be the new Springbok vice-captain. ‘I believe Bismarck is a great leader and I truly believe we have some of the best hookers in the world. Adriaan will take over from Bismarck at some stage and he will be the vice-captain,’ he said.
Springboks – 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (v/c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Pat Lambie, 22 Wynand Olivier.
By Jon Cardinelli and Ryan Vrede