SPRINGBOKS supporters still wince when reminded of it, but South African coaching staff will not be using the horrid memories of last year’s World Cup exit to motivate their team against the Wallabies.
The Wallabies’ 11-9 triumph over the Springboks in the quarter-final in Wellington in October caused uproar in South Africa, with New Zealand referee Bryce Lawrence becoming the country’s public enemy No.1 after several dubious decisions went Australia’s way. The then Springboks coach Peter de Villiers was scathing, basically blaming Lawrence for his team’s departure from the tournament.
However, de Villiers’ successor, Heyneke Meyer, has no interest in reliving that game, believing it has no relevance to the Perth Test on Saturday night. That might have a lot to do with only four Springboks who played in Wellington remaining in the starting line-up.
”I am not a guy who lives in the past,” Meyer said when announcing his Test line-up. ”There’s only Jannie [du Plessis] left from that World Cup forward pack, so I can’t use it as a motivation. But I also don’t believe in negative motivation. I instead know where we have to go, and we want to be the best team in the world.
”We are far from that yet. We have our own goals over the next four years, and that’s the focus – not what happened in previous games.”
Meyer made some unexpected selections, including moving halfback Francois Hougaard to the wing, and revamping his back row. He even conceded this could cause problems.
”One thing we don’t have in our back row, which is a little bit of a concern, is out-and-out pace,” Meyer said. ”But we make up for that by having a back row with a big work rate. Duane [Vermeulen] is not your typical No.8, but he is a very hard, grafting player, and gives you go-forward. What we lose in speed, we gain in muscle and intelligence.”
The Wallabies were not too bothered to hear Hougaard had been moved out wide last night, as they believe he is more dangerous closer to the ruck.
Meyer argued Hougaard out wide could be a match winner.
”He is a great player,” he said of the 24-year-old. ”It doesn’t matter where you pick him, he remains a game breaker. He will get more space on the wing.”
SOUTH AFRICA: Zane Kirchner; Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers (capt), Francois Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Marcell Couetzee, Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Res: Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Louw, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo