Boks look overseas for locks

Date published: June 2 2015

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has suggested that exiled lock Andries Bekker may be a surprise inclusion in his 31-man World Cup squad.

The former Stormers lock has not played Test rugby in almost three years and currently plies his trade in Japan but Meyer still believes he could add value to the national squad.

38-year-old Victor Matfield is expected to be included in the group that heads to England later this year but with his understudy Pieter-Steph du Toit still unsure of being fit, South Africa are in short supply of quality number 5 locks and 31-year-old Bekker's 2.08m frame could come in handy.

Mayer is scheduled to have a one-on-one meeting with Bekker, who has 29 Test caps, on Tuesday, as he has done with the 44 players gathered for the second of the Boks' training camps in Cape Town. 

"Andries will be in the mix," said Meyer.

"I will be having a one-on-one with Andries and there is a good chance he will be available.

"But players need to show that they are willing to die to play for the Springboks and for the country. It’s not always the best players but the players who are willing to put it all on the line and are hungry to win the World Cup — it doesn't matter who it is."

Another veteran lock potentially still in the mix is Bulls stalwart Flip van der Merwe, who Meyer has also spoken to on the phone. Reports have suggested that the experienced lock, who missed the first training due to "personal" reasons, had actually made himself unavailable for national selection because of a contractual dispute with the South African Rugby Union.

Van der Merwe will join French club Clermont later this year but Meyer said the 29-year-old was ready to return to the Bok squad if called up.

"Unfortunately they [the Bulls] have been on tour for a month," said Meyer. 

"I always said I would like to look at every single player, every single player will have a look-in and I will have meetings with all the guys, so I can select the best 31 for the World Cup."

"It's easy to judge a player by watching him on TV. By seeing them up close and talking to them in one-on-one sessions you get a sense of their skill levels and mental make-up. It's also about giving fringe players hope."

The Bok coach also hinted that controversial utility back Frans Steyn had not been excluded from his thinking, although the 2007 World Cup winner is unlikely to make the cut having recently undergone surgery on a torn pectoral.

"It is a pity Frans is injured again. I still think he is a world class player," explained Meyer. 

"He has had a tough season – it is a pity he is not available and he has had a lot of injuries."