How Boks can be No.1 again
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will have just one more chance to mold his team into a unit before the first Test of the year.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will have just one more chance to mold his team into a unit before the next stage in their quest to be No.1 in the world rankings.
Speaking to the media at the conclusion of his first training camp in Cape Town this week, Meyer said the next training camp is planned for Durban at the end of May and the Springbok squad for the June Tests - involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa - will be named early in June.
While "pleasantly surprised" at how quickly the guys had submerged themselves back into the Bok culture barely a day after knocking the stuffing out of each other in Super Rugby, Meyer said he would have liked a bit more time with the team.
"If we could have these camps more sporadically, there is no reason why we can't be the best team in the world," the Bok mentor said.
"At this stage that is the difference between the All Blacks, England - who have a month with their team together - and us
"I am grateful to the [Super Rugby] franchises for this opportunity, but if we can have more of these I believe we can be No.1 in the world," Meyer added, confirming that there would "unfortunately" just be one more before the opening Test against Italy on June 8.
"We do realise this is Super Rugby season. Last year it was easier [to stage camps], because often we had two [South African] teams who had a bye together. This year we don't have that luxury and I also want the players to rest during their byes.
"That was the most tired I have seen players on the end-of-year tour last year. So we will have just one more of these camps."
Meyer dismissed the notion the four-nation tournament in June - involving SA, Italy, Scotland and Samoa - would allow his team to ease into the international season.
"Italy showed great improvement in their play and finished fourth in the Six Nations," the coach said, adding: "Scotland also improved, but that first Test against Italy will be tough."
He also spoke of the amazing team spirit at the camp.
"Sunday it seemed like a group of old friends who hadn't seen each other for a long time and there's is an unbelievable team spirit.
"As far as that is concerned, a very good [team] culture is in place - I am very happy in that regard with what we have put in place."
He added that he was also pleasantly surprised at how quickly the players picked up the moves and team tactics again.
South Africa's 2013 fixtures:
Saturday, June 8 (Kings Park, Durban): Scotland v Samoa; South Africa v Italy
Saturday, June 15 (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit): Samoa v Italy; South Africa v Scotland
Saturday, June 22 (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria): Team Three v Team Four ; Team One v Team Two
Saturday, August 17 (Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein): South Africa v Argentina
Saturday, August 24 (Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza): Argentina v South Africa
Saturday, September 7 (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane): Australia v South Africa
Saturday, September 14 (Eden Park, Auckland): New Zealand v South Africa
Saturday, September 28 (Newlands, Cape Town): South Africa v Australia
Saturday, October 5 (Ellis Park, Johannesburg): South Africa v New Zealand
Saturday, November 9 (Millennium Stadium, Cardiff): Wales v South Africa
Saturday, November 16 (Murrayfield, Edinburgh): Scotland v South Africa
Saturday, November 23 (Venue TBC): France v South Africa
By Jan de Koning