Numbers game for Bok locks

Sat, 16 Nov 2013 06:27
Ebenetzebethboktraining4 Pieter-steph-du-toit_-bakki
I would love Eben to play more at No.5 for the Stormers

With the exception of Bakkies Botha, all the locks currently in the Springbok squad will soon be able to play in both second row positions.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, speaking ahead of his team's one-off Test against Scotland in Edinburgh, revealed that he is keen for Eben Etzebeth to join Pieter-Steph du Toit in his conversion from a No.4 to a No.5 lock.

At Murrayfield on Sunday Botha will be the front of the line-out jumper (No.4), with Flip van der Merwe starting at No.5.

Etzebeth will be on the bench and Du Toit, who made his Test debut off the bench in the Boks' 24-15 win over Wales last week, will be watching from the stands.

Meyer admitted he was tempted to play a combination of Botha (No.4) and Etzebeth (No.5) this week, but the quality of the opposition - Jim Hamilton and Richie Gray - forced him to have a rethink.

However, there is no doubt he would like Etzebeth to play at No.5.

"It was a big consideration to go with Eben at No.5, but in saying that, we respect the opposition," Meyer told a media scrum, adding: "Scotland, every Test is tough against them [and] I don't want to take those chances in important game.

"I would love Eben to play more at No.5 for the Stormers. He has been training there [at No.5] with us. He can move to No.5, it just depends on the [situation in the] game," Meyer said,, adding that it will give him more options.

"Eben and Pieter-Steph are almost like additional loose forwards and if they can play at No.5 it will give us so many more options going forward."

However, while he want to give the players playing opportunities to help them develop and become more rounded players, the Scottish pack is not the combination to make such experiments against.

Van der Merwe can also revert back to No.4, meaning the Boks will be in a great position as far as the second row is concerned in the next two years.

"The one thing we have now is very physical locks, especially with the World Cup going to be in these [wet] conditions," the Bok mentor said, adding: "Here it is a physical battle, an arm-wrestle, and the four locks that are here can mix it up with the best.

"Flip has done really well at No.5 and I hope he can improve in that position."

Meyer admitted that his main concern is at No.5.

"Pieter-Steph is doing well, Eben is spending a lot of time with [forward coach] Johan [van Graan] to get there [as a No.5 lock]. "That will give us additional options if we can rotate those guys as well.

 Next year there are 14 Test matches and it is a very long season  - it just gives us more options when we have such quality players around."