Meyer: Malherbe to seize moment
Meyer: Malherbe to seize momentSHARE
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is confident prop Frans Malherbe will make a statement in his Test debut against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Uncapped Malherbe faces a baptism of fire at the Millennium Stadium after being named at tighthead in place of injured veteran Jannie du Plessis.
The 22-year-old rookie will make his Test debut against the vastly experienced Gethin Jenkins, who will win his 99th Test for the current Six Nations champions.
Jenkins is as accomplished an international prop as they come. The 32-year-old has captained Wales and is among a select group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams.
The Cardiff Blues front row forward was also selected for the British and Irish Lions in 2005, 2009 and earlier this year, but had to withdraw from the Australian tour in June due to injury.
It’s a daunting résumé, but Meyer has full faith in greenhorn Malherbe and believes his time has come.
"Frans is a quality player, he has always been part of it [the Springbok squad]. When I started my tenure he was part of the young guns and I really believe he can be a world-class player,” Meyer said on Wednesday.
"Frans has done well in training. He has shown he wants to play there, he is mentally tough, he is a good leader. I have known him since he was a schoolboy and he is a really tough player. I totally trust him or else I would not have picked him and I think he will have a great game.
"He is playing with Bismarck [du Plessis] who is a very experienced hooker and he is playing with two of the best scrummaging locks behind him.”
Malherbe has been thrust into the starting line-up ahead of Cheetahs prop Coenie Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen, a natural loosehead, has been providing tighthead cover for South Africa since making his debut against England last June.
He’s made all 11 of his Test appearances off the bench and is set to remain in that role behind specialist tighthead Malherbe.
"The one thing is that Frans is a specialist tighthead, he has scrummed against some of the best looseheads in the world in Super Rugby, and he has proven himself in Super Rugby,” Meyer said of Malherbe’s selection.
"Obviously he needs the experience and you are only going to get the experience by playing in these conditions. Coenie is more of an impact player I believe, he is a guy that has done well for us but he is not an out-and-out specialist tighthead."