I don't have favourites – Bok coach

Date published: June 3 2013

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer has moved to debunk the notion that he was intransigent in his selections in naming his 34-man squad.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has moved to debunk the notion that he was intransigent in his selections in naming a 34-man squad for the upcoming Test series involving Samoa, Italy and Scotland.

Meyer has, in the past, received plenty of criticism for his perceived favouritism towards certain players in his first year in charge of the Boks.

“I want to prove to the players that I am loyal to performance. I don't have favourites,” said Meyer after naming his squad in Cape Town on Saturday.

“The great thing is there are nine uncapped players, six guys that are in the squad for the first time.

“It just shows to the players that if you really play hard in Super Rugby there is always a chance of playing for your country.”

The Bok mentor has been criticised for a style of play which has been considered by some to be too defence oriented.

Among the newcomers are Cheetahs sensation Willie le Roux and Bulls prodigy Jan Serfontein.

Le Roux has been one of the standout players in this year's Super Rugby competition, and has emerged to be a valuable game-breaker.

Serfontein has made a meteoric rise since starring in last year's Junior World Championship-winning SA U20 squad.

Meyer believed the inclusion of players such as Le Roux and Serfontein could give the Bok backline an added edge.

“[Le Roux] played some great rugby in Super Rugby and I believe he can play at full-back as well, he plays at the Cheetahs as a second fly-half which I like from a full-back coming from the back,” said Meyer.

“He's really played well this year and it just shows you that a smaller union can deliver Springboks, now it is up to him to make the step-up.”

Meyer said that while he had selected a number of players on their form this season, he would nevertheless stick with the core of players who did duty for him throughout last year.

Some newcomers in Springbok jerseys could be expected for the first Test in the incoming series against Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

“You will probably go with the experienced side to start off, but I want to have a look at one or two of the youngsters coming off the bench,” he said.

“It is a very young squad and you want to give the guys Test matches to get them up to 30 to 40 Test matches at the World Cup.

“A lot of these youngsters will be great players in future and I want to give one or two of them chances from the bench to see how they perform on a high level.”

The Springbok coach said he would reward players who plied their trade in South Africa, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar and flanker Francois Louw being the only overseas-based players included in the squad.

Meyer identified the scrums, breakdowns and goal-kicking as major areas he wanted the Boks to improve on from last year.

It is in the goal-kicking department that the national side particularly fell short last season.

Meyer believed that, had his kickers performed better in 2012, his winning percentage would have looked much rosier.

Bulls fly-half Morne Steyn was uncharacteristically below-par with his kicking last year, but he has been on song this season.

Incumbent Springbok fly-half Pat Lambie's aim has also been solid in this year's Super Rugby and Meyer expected more points to come the Sharks' way from goal-kicking.