Heyneke Meyer is set to pick Ruan Pienaar at scrumhalf and shift Francois Hougaard to the wing for Saturday’s clash against the Wallabies.
Hougaard has failed to improve as both a distributor and a tactical kicker, and it would appear that Meyer has finally decided to move the talented player into a position where his other skills would be better utilised.
Starting Pienaar at No 9 will also give the Boks a stronger kicking option, and alleviate the pressure on struggling flyhalf Morné Steyn.
‘I’ve always said that we will have a horses-for-courses attitude,’ Meyer told the media in Perth. ‘Hougaard gives you something different on the wing while Ruan is a little bit more experienced and he has a brilliant kicking game so he can take some of the pressure off of Morne Steyn. It is not a definite thing but we are looking at that option.’
That being said, a strong showing by Pienaar could force Meyer to consider a permanent change in personnel. The same could be said of Francois Louw, who joined the side on Monday after playing for Bath over the weekend. Louw is likely to feature at openside flank and will be looking to change the mindset of Meyer who initially felt Louw surplus to requirements.
‘I want the option of a specialist openside, maybe on the bench,’ said the Bok coach. ‘Northern hemisphere refs are normally a bit more lenient at the breakdown and I want us to be covered there. But I’ve said before that the whole team needs to be able to compete on the ground and at the breakdown.
‘Our problem against Argentina was not just taking the opposition’s ball at the breakdown, it was protecting our own ball at the breakdown and that is not just the openside’s role that is the whole team’s responsibility. We need to be more effective at the breakdown, our body height should be lower and we should clean out more effectively.’