Heyneke Meyer looks to sharpen attack as Springboks target victory over Wales
South Africa’s Jaque Fourie will win his 70th cap on Saturday
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer.
The 2007 world champions face Wales on Saturday, five weeks after their titanic Championship title decider against New Zealand in Johannesburg.
Meyer retains 10 of the team beaten 38-27 at Ellis Park – and has called upon fullback Pat Lambie, wing JP Pietersen, centre Jaque Fourie, lock Flip van der Merwe and debutant prop Frans Malberhe – under Jean de Villiers’ captaincy.
And apart from seeing the Springboks sharpen their attacking game, Meyer also wants an improvement in defence as South Africa target a 25th victory from 27 starts against Wales.
“We have been very happy with our scrummaging and our lineout has been working. We’ve also worked hard on our ball retention, but the main thing I am not happy with is that we don’t apply pressure enough and convert it into points,” he said.
“We had 19 line-breaks against the All Blacks and only finished four, and they had seven and finished five. I think that is the difference between us and the All Blacks.
‘Brilliant at stages’
“If you get opportunities to score you have to be ruthless. Attacking-wise, I think we have been brilliant at some stages, but it is all about handling the pressure and applying pressure. I have not been happy with that area of our play.
“We conceded five tries against the All Blacks, so I am not happy with that. I think if we had defended better we would have won the Championship because we had enough chances on attack.
“That is where I think Jaque Fourie will make a huge difference.
“If you look at World Cups and championships, it is always the best defensive team that wins, so that is one area we will be focusing on.
“We know Wales have got a very good scrum, a very good lineout and they have big backs. It is going to be a very physical game, I believe.
“Wales have been together for quite some time. It is simple patterns they play, but executed brilliantly. There are not a lot of weaknesses.
“They’ve always had a very good back-three, a very good kicking game, a very good defence and their ball retention is brilliant. They are a difficult side to play against and we know it is going to be a tough Test match.”
Fourie will win his 70th cap, but it is his first Test appearance since the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. He has been playing for Kobe Steelers in Japan.
Recalled after injury
Experienced wing Pietersen has also been recalled after injury and unavailability prevented him from playing for South Africa so far this season.
“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection, and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer added.
“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”
Malherbe, meanwhile, replaces an injured Jannie du Plessis and van der Merwe starts alongside Eben Etzebeth. There is no place in the match-day 23 for Toulon second-row forward Bakkies Botha, who only joined up with the squad on Tuesday night.
“Frans has big boots to fill, but he has shown good form since recovering from injury recently,” Meyer said.