I'm not expecting all the SA teams to be the same
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is already hard at work, planning for a busy international season in 2013. Part of that includes 'observing' the development of the South African Super Rugby franchises.
Meyer, speaking to this website in an exclusive interview, confirmed that his assistant coaches have been travelling around the country to work with the franchises and "share information".
Asked if there are any specific aspects of the game he would like to see teams improve, the Bok coach pinpointed the breakdown as a key area.
"All our teams have unique strengths and things they do very well, but each and every one of our teams have areas where they can improve and if they didn't try and get better, I'd be worried," Meyer told this website.
"But I know the coaches and players and I know all of them have been working extremely hard ahead of this season - not only to improve in some aspects of their game, but also to perfect other areas where they are strong. It's all about balance.
"If there is one area that I think we can improve a lot, especially from the Springboks' side, it's our play at the breakdown.
"We've given a lot of attention to it and it will be a focus for us this year, as I feel it's becoming more and more important in the way rugby is played."
Meyer said he was hoping to see all South Africa's franchises do well this year, as that would obviously benefit the Boks.
"Last year we had three teams in the playoffs and it would be great if we can achieve that yet again," he said, adding: "I think it's important that our teams set out what they plan to achieve and play a brand of rugby that suits our players, whilst enjoying being part of one of the greatest rugby competitions in the world.
"In saying that, I'm not expecting all the South African teams to be the same.
"I think all our teams have different strengths and it would be great to see these in action.
"The quality of the rugby is important, and so is winning a trophy - I don't think anyone will complain if one of our teams bring home the big prize.
"I also won't mind if we don't see any serious injuries to any of our players for the duration of the competition, but that is something we don't have any control over."
Last year this time, at the start of the Super Rugby season, Meyer was scrambling around to get his first team together in his debut year as Bok head coach.
It was a frenetic scramble to find dates to fit in a few 'training camps' - within the already hectic schedule of the Super Rugby franchises - so that he could have an idea of what talent was at his disposal.
While the Bok mentor now has a better idea of which players are up to international standard, his schedule is just as frenzied, as he continues with his build-up to the 2015 World Cup in England.
"Last year wasn't easy and this year won't be any different, but at least we've been able to get to work already - planning ahead for the season," Meyer told this website.
"All my assistant coaches have been travelling around the country to work with the franchises and share information and we've been able to sit and have a detailed look ahead at the upcoming season, which is much more than what we'd been able to do at this stage last year, when my support team wasn't even appointed yet."
Meyer said it would be great to have some training camps again this year, but they are still in discussion with the franchises.
"We don't want to interrupt their preparations.
"As soon as we've finalised these, we will make an announcement."
By Jan de Koning