Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, on Saturday expressed his satisfaction with his team’s season opening performance against a very durable World XV at Newlands. The Springboks won 46-10 in difficult conditions after scoring seven tries, with fullback Willie Le Roux helping himself to a hat-trick. Meyer says: ‘We needed confidence from this match, so I am very happy with seven tries to one. However, I am not too pleased about the try we conceded, but it was a good start for us. Next week will be a different challenge though and we will be tested when we face Australia.’
The coach added he was happy with the way the team combined, considering that they last played together as a team in November last year. Meyer says: ‘It was always going to be difficult for new combinations to settle with not much time together, but overall I think we played well. We obviously need to fix a few things, but I am very positive with our performance today. To be honest, I actually expected the guys to be a bit more rusty out there, but our fitness and some combinations worked out well.’
The coach was pleased with the way players returning from injury, such as Jean De Villiers and Cobus Reinach, came through the match. He says: ‘I was probably more nervous than Jean when he took to the field, but he soon showed how ready he was for this. The spirit he showed to get back to this level is amazing and it lifted all the guys. I am also very happy for the likes of Victor Matfield, who has showed he is on a mission to help us try and win the World Cup.’
Meyer admitted that next week’s start to the Rugby Championship may well give him the opportunity to try out some combinations: ‘I am very happy with the way our back three and midfield played and we will use the Championship to tweak a little bit more. The guys played well, especially in this wet weather, but we all realise we will have to step-up next week. We have a long flight to Brisbane and only two proper training sessions before we face Australia where we will probably have to make more than 200 tackles against the Wallabies, so have to prepare very well.’
According to Matfield he was nervous before the match because the team worked very hard on fitness leading up to the match: ‘I was worried that it was going to catch up on us as we really worked hard all week. However, the guys really played well and we are all pleased. I am very happy to see those guys, who did not play in a while, came through with no problems.’ The veteran lock will captain the side in the first two Rugby Championship matches because regular skipper Jean De Villiers will not travel Down Under.
De Villiers will play a number of matches with his provincial outfit, Western Province. De Villiers said he was pretty pleased to be back in action: ‘I still have a long way to go, but it was fantastic to be part of this match. I have a long list of people to thank for this, especially my family, the Springbok and provincial medical staff and everyone who helped and supported me to get back to playing again.’
The Springboks depart for Australia on Sunday and the travelling party of 31 will be announced on Sunday.
Photo credit: Luigi Bennett / ImageSA