Boks must build on strong finish
12 Jun 2012
Heyneke Meyer has demanded more focus and consistency from his players ahead of the second Test against England.
Meyer cut a nervous figure ahead of his first Test in charge. The Boks had had just five days to prepare for an important clash, a match that would set the tone for the rest of the three-game series against England.
Some people may have expected the Boks to beat England easily, but in the first half of the Test in Durban, the lack of adequate preparation was evident and Meyer’s fears came to life. The Boks bounced back strongly in the second half to win the game and take a 1-0 lead in the series, but there was a lesson to be learned from this two-halved showing.
The mood in the Bok camp has already changed this week if Meyer’s countenance is anything to go by. At Monday’s media gathering, the Bok coach looked calmer having now enjoyed a week to work with the squad.
At the same time, Meyer had a firm message for the media and for the South African public. The first game may have been completed and the desired result attained, but Meyer is adamant that this team is capable of more.
‘I’m much more relieved today, but I need to keep the pressure on the players,’ the Bok coach said. ‘England were awesome at times last week and so we can’t go into a comfort zone now that we are 1-0 up.
‘I’ve got high standards and I think we still have a way to go. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and that pressure is greater than anything created by the media or public. We want to be the best team in the world, so we have to improve with every game.’
The Boks will be without the injured Zane Kirchner for this coming fixture. Pat Lambie will slot in at No 15 in what should be the only change to the starting side.
Meyer hopes that the team will build on the momentum created in the second half of the first Test. He was impressed with the physicality and accuracy of that second-half showing in Durban, especially on defence, and expects an even stronger performance against what should be a more determined England outfit.
‘We played well in the second half, but we didn’t put the points on the board. That is unacceptable. There are a lot of bruised bodies in the camp this week but they know that they will need to get up for another big game, they will need to lift their performance too.
‘I thought England played well in patches, and we have great respect for them. At the same time I thought we were good when we got going and there were some real positive signs. There was some great intensity and awesome defence in that second half and I’m pleased with that.
‘They kept the ball well during the last 10 minutes, and apart from that try I think our defence did brilliantly to keep them out. Credit to John McFarland [defence coach] for doing a great job.
‘It’s going to be another awesome battle between two very good defensive sides this Saturday.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Johannesburg