Injuries send young Springbok squad on European Tour
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) –
South Africa will field a young team in upcoming Tests in Ireland, Scotland and England as injured seasoned players stay home, while coach Heyneke Meyer starts preparing for the 2015 World Cup.
The Springboks leave for the British Isles on Saturday ahead of the Ireland game on November 10, but Meyer was hoping for a more experienced team as a full season takes its toll. He’ll start honing the youngsters instead for the next World Cup.
“The aim of this tour is two-fold: we need to try and win every test, but we also need to start looking forward up through to the World Cup,” he said in Cape Town ahead of traveling north.
“The Rugby World Cup in 2015 also takes place in England, so we will use this tour to see how our players adapt to the conditions as we look ahead to that very important tournament.”
With recently promoted flyhalf Johan Goosen left out of the squad with injury, Meyer has favoured upcoming star Patrick Lambie to have a go.
“He is tried and tested at Super Rugby level but I want to go forward with two flyhalves from here and I want to use this opportunity to see what Pat can do at this level.”
Meyer still didn’t say outright if the 22-year-old Lambie would wear the number 10 jersey against Ireland next Saturday, or if he’ll field current second choice Elton Jantjies or the recalled Morne Steyn in the starting match.
Injuries will keep several senior players from traveling. Centre Frans Steyn, wing Bryan Habana, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and loose forwards Schalk Burger and Pierre Spies were not considered for the tour, prompting some tentative suggestions that the South African system should allow players more rest.
Ireland remain formidable opponents, despite South Africa’s victory in their last encounter in 2010.
“Although the Springboks won on their last visit to Dublin, they lost three in a row before that,” said Meyer.
Luckily captain Jean de Villiers has been declared fit to tour after he pulled a hamstring during training two weeks ago.
Ironically injuries in the Irish camp, notably of captain Brian O’Driscoll with a hurt ankle, may count in the Springboks’ favour.
Meanwhile Scotland have been on an upward streak with victories against Australia, Fiji and Samoa in June, after crashing out in the group stages in last year’s World Cup and losing all five of their matches in the Six Nations.
The Springboks will hope for a victory at Murrayfield on November 17 after losing there two years ago, though they won the two previous encounters.
South Africa’s 2-0 home victory over England in the Test series in June may help them relax going into their November 24 showdown. A draw in their last Test encounter however ended the Springboks’ nine-victory streak against England and should make them more careful going to Twickenham.