Meyer wants scrumhalves to shine
Mon, 04 Aug 2014 14:28
We will need quick ball on the front foot
Fourie du Preez's absence at this year's Rugby Championship will be Heyneke Meyer's biggest setback as he looks to his back-up scrumhalves to impress.
The Japan-based scrumhalf injured his ankle in the Springbok's 55-6 victory over Scotland in June ruling him out for approximately six months.
"Fourie's [Du Preez] injury is a major setback. You don't replace a world-class player like that overnight," the coach said on Monday at a five-day Springbok camp ahead of next weekend's opening Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Pretoria.
"The next scrumhalf will have to put up his hand.
"We have great individual scrumhalves in the country that can break from anywhere but in top flight rugby the defence is much better and you need a No.9 that clears the ball well.
"That is what Fourie picked up in Japan, which allowed us to score the most tries ... We will need quick ball on the front foot."
Ruan Pienaar has been Du Preez' regular understudy but his slowish service has come under scrutiny, while Francois Hougaard is yet to produce on the promise he holds.
Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach has been called into camp and will hope along with Pienaar and Hougaard to impress Meyer during the Rugby Championship.
The Bok coach has also made mention of how close the competition could get in that bonus points could ultimately separate the champions from the losers.
Last year the Springboks came painstakingly close to winning the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2009 when they faced the All Blacks in the final deciding match at Ellis Park.
A bonus point victory ultimately escaped the home side, but Meyer believed missed opportunities in earlier matches in the series cost them dearly.
"What we did well last year was to win two away from home but the fact that we didn't get the bonus point away against Argentina was tough," Meyer said.
"The big disappointment was that we fought back to score four tries against Australia there which is unheard of.
"But the fact that we didn't get the bonus point in New Zealand and in Australia at home put us under pressure to score four tries against New Zealand."
He said the team needed to take the bonus point when they were on offer in order not to create a pressure situation at home.
"We will have to win away from home again and we will have to get a bonus point in each match if you don't win," he said.
However, Meyer is not deluding himself into thinking that these goals will be easy to attain.
"It will be the toughest one yet [Championship]," he added.
"Australia had a lot of injuries last year and now they've suddenly hit form and they've changed their game plan.
"We are probably the team with the most injuries and New Zealand are always tough while Argentina has caught up."
Australia and New Zealand would be quite bullish after each of their franchises featured in the Super Rugby final in Sydney over the weekend where the Waratahs beat the Crusaders for their maiden title.
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