I just want to see what Andries can do and then probably stick with the best guy going forward
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has made it clear that Andries Bekker will have to make the most of his opportunity to start at Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers second row stalwart was viewed as the natural successor to Victor Matfield in the Bok No.5 jersey, but has been plagued by injury in the last few years and was forced to watch Bulls rival Juandre Kruger run the line-outs in the June Test series against England.
Since returning from his latest injury, a back complication that struck midway through the Super Rugby season, Bekker has played with impressive intensity which has earned him a chance to prove that he belongs in the Springbok starting line-up.
Meyer admitted that the decision to drop Kruger, who has done little wrong, was a tough one, but explained that he believes Bekker deserves a chance to prove himself at Newlands alongside Eben Etzebeth who he has an established lock partnership with.
He said: "Juandre has really proved himself and I have said to him as well that this is just giving Andries a chance. It sounds tough but I didn't actally drop him, I just want to see what Andries can do and then probably stick with the best guy going forward.
"I though Juandre did brilliantly in the previous Test matches and he is definitely unlucky but at Newlands it is the Stormers lock pairing so I also want to see what Andries can do, Eben [Etzebeth] is back to full fitness and Flip [Van der Merwe] is also playing great rugby and it is great to have that competition in the side," added Meyer.
Bekker himself dismissed the idea that there is additional pressure on him to perform this weekend, but did concede that keeping his place in the starting XV with Kruger snapping at his heels is going to be a major challenge.
"I think for every team you play you have to perform, so if you play for the Stormers, Bulls, Boks, anyone you have to perform to stay in the team and to start every weekend.
"I think this is the best chance I have got to start, but then again Juandre has had a good season so far and he played well against England so it is going to be tough to start week-in and week-out with him there as well," he said.
By Michael de Vries