New Springbok blindside Jacques Potgieter is relishing the prospect of tackling England and has promised to match Willem Alberts’ work-rate.
Of those currently in the wider training group, Potgieter, Siya Kolisi and JJ Engelbrecht all hail from the Eastern Cape but it is the Bulls No 7 who Meyer has selected for the third and final Test against England.
Meyer said that the 26-year-old, who is originally from Port Elizabeth, has the physical attributes and has displayed the necessary Super Rugby form to suggest that he is ready for Test rugby. The Bok coach is convinced that Potgieter will offset the loss of Alberts, who sustained a knee injury in last week’s match.
Meyer explained that Alberts’ injury gives Potgieter an opportunity to showcase his skills at the highest level. Indeed it is an opportunity Potgieter may never have enjoyed if Alberts, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger and Duane Vermeulen were all fit and available.
Nevertheless, he intends to make the most of this chance.
‘I’m replacing Willem who has had an outstanding series, so I have some big boots to fill,’ Potgieter said. ‘I would say we are a bit different and that we each bring something different to that role. Having said that I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing that ball-carrying role, of getting us over the gainline.’
While the Boks’ work at the attacking breakdowns was far better at Ellis Park, Meyer has expressed his disappointment in the defence. Meyer lamented some ‘soft moments’ where the Boks allowed England some easy yards and tries.
England are set to make a few changes of their own this week, with James Haskell a likely replacement for the injured captain Chris Robshaw. Thomas Waldrom is also expected to pack down at No 8, and if these players receive the ball on the front foot they could prove difficult to contain.
‘England have nothing to lose this week, so they will throw everything at us,’ said Potgieter. ‘So we will have to be prepared.
‘Personally, if I see a white jersey, I’m going to go for it no matter what. In fact, if the referee is wearing white I may even end up tackling him,’ the rookie joked.
Meyer has selected a loose trio that is a blend of youth and experience. Potgieter will play his first Test, while Marcell Coetzee will earn just his third cap. At the other end of the scale, Pierre Spies will play his 50th Test for South Africa.
Potgieter is confident that the three loose forwards will fire as a combination, and admitted that he would be looking to Spies, his captain at the Bulls, for guidance during the match.
‘Pierre is an amazing guy. His calmness and experience having played 50 Tests will certainly help guys like Marcell and myself.’
By Jon Cardinelli, in Port Elizabeth