Heyneke throws down the gauntlet
SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer has challenged his team to improve on last week's performance for the second rugby test against England at Ellis Park this Saturday.
Meyer made only one enforced change to the starting line-up that beat England 22-17 in Durban, including Pat Lambie at fullback in place of the injured Zane Kirchner. He also made two changes to the bench.
Bulls wing Bjorn Basson takes his place among the reserves, with Lambie's elevation to the starting line-up, while Bulls prop Werner Kruger comes in for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen.
Picking a specialist tighthead as cover was always going to count in Kruger's favour as Jannie du Plessis could move to the loosehead side if Beast Mtawarira is injured.
"It's been unusual to have an almost unchanged team two weeks in succession and it gives us a chance to work on the aspects of the game we want to improve," Meyer said.
"I was happy with some parts of our game last week but there is a lot we still need to work on as well.
"We have high standards and we got a lot of things wrong last week. I expect England will also change their tactics by keeping the ball more and moving us around.
"But we need to focus on our own game; it's vital that we lift our standards for the second test.
"Altitude does give us a slight advantage but we can't expect a stadium or the fans to go out and win the game for us; we have to arrive and do it ourselves. If we want to be the best in the world it's up to us to perform."
Lambie's inclusion will add to the Boks' attacking repertoire, but Meyer also pointed out that the youngster had to improve his kicking game to become one of the best fullbacks in the world.
The entire philosophy under Meyer is about becoming the best team in the world and the coach has worked the players harder than ever before in a Springbok set-up.
Yesterday they did three training sessions, which is unusual in the build-up to a test. Meyer's sessions are not only physical but mental too, as he strives to cram as much information as possible into his players' heads.
Hard work is the cornerstone of his approach. "People can outplay us, but they will never outwork us," Meyer said.
"We want to make a quick start but you can't always do that because every test has its own nature and personality, and you have to work through it. Ideally I would like the team to be on top for 80 minutes, but that's not always possible."
South Africa: 15 Pat Lambie, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 François Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Keegan Daniel, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Wynand Olivier, 22 Bjorn Basson.