Boks 'put their bodies on the line'

Sun, 24 Nov 2013 07:35
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Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer put his side's unbeaten European tour down to the commitment and unity of the squad.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer put his side's unbeaten European tour down to the commitment and unity of the squad.

The Boks beat France 19-10 in Paris on Saturday to end the year with 10 wins from their 12 matches, and cement their status as the No.2 ranked team behind the unbeaten All Blacks who were the only side to get the better of them.

It was their first win in France in 16 years, and they never really looked under threat as they dominated territorially and had two tries disallowed by the TMO.

Meyer, who has now won 17 of his 24 Tests in charge since taking over last year, said that the attitude of the players had been key at the end of a bruising year.

"I am very relieved and very proud, it has been a very long season with a lot of niggles and a lot of injuries.

"The guys really wanted to put their body on the line and win for their country, they played against a very tough French side so I am very happy," he said.

France have only won two games this year - against Scotland and Tonga - but they were always going to be a tricky proposition in the last game of the year so Meyer was satisfied with the way his team shut them out of the game.

"To win in France and beat them by nine points, one or two tries were 50/50 and could have gone either way. It is tough winning away so I think the guys showed a lot of mental toughness.

"The great thing about this team is that they play for each other, it is not just the 23 guys on the pitch it is all 32 guys that have been here and a few injured guys back home," he said.

The Bok coach said that the stand-out for him had been Willem Alberts, who was carrying an injury but did not compromise on physicality in a powerful display.

"What really makes me proud is that a guy like Willem Alberts was injured and shouldn't have played probably but he put his body on the line and he was the man of the match, that is awesome," he said.

One of the main areas of concern in the build-up to the Test had been tighthead prop, as a series of injuries meant Coenie Oosthuizen had to make his first start, but he stood up well at scrum-time, much to Meyer's relief.

"A guy like Coenie had two injuries and we were really worried about the scrum, especially against the French, and he came through brilliantly," he said.

Another source of satisfaction for Meyer was the performance of veteran Bakkies Botha who came off the bench to replace IRB world player of the year nominee Eben Etzebeth.

"Bakkies [Botha] is 34 years old and there was a lot of criticism when I brought him in, but when Eben [Etzebeth] got injured he came in and put in an awesome performance.

"That is what it is all about - teamwork and putting your body on the line for the guy next to you and that is what makes them a succesful team," he said.