Big day here tomorrow.
Scotland are in town.
For my fellow enthusiasts I’m reprinting the report from today’s daily read. It will / should give you …
a) An insight in our approach to the game, and
b) Perhaps a different perspective from whatever sports reporters are scribbling in your neck of the woods or
C) For those with no rugby reporting in their local press whatsoever a reminder that there’s a game on!
WHEN Heyneke Meyer took over the Springbok coaching reins, the only shades of grey were on his temples as opposed to the almost complete silver head he now sports. Coaching the Boks will do that to a bloke.
“I’m getting grey quite easily,” Meyer, probably thinking of the hair-raising 31-30 result against Wales last weekend, joked ahead of this weekend’s clash against Scotland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Meyer’s job has not been without its pressures, and although pundits would easily tip the Boks for a walk-over against the Scots tomorrow, this game will be as important a test match as any for the coach as he builds towards next year’s World Cup.
This weekend he will be doing it with a mix of the veterans who won the 2007 World Cup with Jake White and youngsters with no fewer than five uncapped players in his match-23 squad.
“What I’m happy about is that [based on the last two tests against Wales] we can build an innings and also chase the game under pressure,” he said.
“I’m also happy with the [number of] tries we are scoring. We need to keep the structures but I also want the guys to go out and express themselves. The younger guys are excited and will probably make mistakes. They just need to stay composed.”
The Boks have for years been accused of playing overtly physical rugby, marred by an excessive kicking game. However, recently they even surprised the Scots with a more expansive game with fullback Willie le Roux masterminding the entertaining running rugby.
Now with 20-year-old Handre Pollard also having a chance to bring his exciting element to the side, they hope to continue surprising with a varied style of play.
Asked which areas the Scots feared to take on against the Boks tomorrow, coach Vern Cotter’s simple answer was: “Everywhere! They are a good finishing team. They are big and physical. They are going to move the ball at certain times. If we give them space, they are going to score tries,” Cotter said.
Although the game against Scotland is unlikely to be as close as the battle against Wales last weekend, Meyer’s side will not be going into the match over-confident or underestimating the much-changed Scottish side.
“We have a high regard for Scotland. They have a new coaching staff, new energy and they have won three on the trot,” Meyer said following Scotland’s wins over the USA, Canada and Argentina over the past three weeks.
What Meyer is looking forward to most is to see the young charges, which include Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jan Serfontein and Coenie Oosthuzen, in the starting lineup, ahead of next year’s World Cup.
“This is the first time we are involved in four [back-to-back] tests which will be the same scenario at the World Cup. I got criticised for naming a big squad, but I think it was the right thing to do and give guys chances.
“A lot of these youngsters will get opportunities to show me where they stand,” he said.
The Scots themselves are going through a sort of revival. Cotter has made three changes to the starting XV that beat Argentina last week. He has also included the uncapped 20-year-old Adam Ashe at No 8.