Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says he was misunderstood when he appeared to say he did not care much for the result of their third-place playoff against Argentina.
After narrowly losing 20-18 to the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals last weekend, a gutted Meyer did not look forward to the prospect of his side playing in the competition’s Bronze Final.
“Mentally, it’s very tough. It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” Meyer was quoted as saying last weekend.
This was perhaps an indication that the Bok coach may ring the changes for the match against Los Pumas, but he instead opted for consistency when naming his side on Wednesday.
Victor Matfield replaces Lood de Jager as one of only two changes to the starting line-up from last Saturday’s semi-final. He takes over the over the captaincy from the injured Fourie du Preez (cheek), whose place in the No 9 jersey is taken by Ruan Pienaar, with Rudy Paige coming in on the bench.
Speaking at a press conference in Guildford on Wednesday, Meyer explained his reasons for not tinkering too much with the team.
“The temptation was there to have some fresh guys but I think people maybe understood me wrong. I said it was never good enough in South Africa to compete for third and fourth and be happy about it,” said Meyer.
“When you’re a Springbok, only to be the best in the world is good enough, but by saying that, whenever you put the Springbok jersey on, even if it’s a friendly, you are still representing your country, still representing the hopes and dreams of a lot of people and that’s a big responsibility.”
There have been calls in some quarters for Meyer to be axed and the result of Friday’s match could yet determine his fate as Springbok coach.
“In a sense, there are a lot of guys probably at the end of their careers who could have played, but I just felt this is such an important game, a very short turnaround,” Meyer continued.
“I had to get the guys up after last week, we only had one training session. So, to make wholesale changes won’t be the right thing. I have to think about the team first and obviously we want to go out there and win.”
Friday’s clash at London’s Olympic Park is scheduled for 22:00 (SA time).
15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein
15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Nicolas Sanchez (captain), 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matas Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Marcos Ayerza
Substitutes: 16 Lucas Noguera, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Juan Figallo, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Pablo Socino