Heyneke laments lack of experience in Bok team
South Africa’s lack of experience was a major factor in their shock 16-16 Rugby Championship draw with Argentina at the weekend but coach Heyneke Meyer does not plan to make wholesale changes for upcoming tests against New Zealand and Australia.
Playing in the southern hemisphere tournament, previously known as the Tri-Nations, for the first time this year Argentina were on the brink of a famous victory over the South Africans before Francois Steyn’s try earned the Springboks a draw.
Meyer was unhappy with the result and the performance but said it was his job to make the team better, not simply pick different players.
“It was not good enough, it was unacceptable and I was very disappointed,” Meyer told reporters at Johannesburg airport on his return from Argentina on Monday.
“But I always knew it would be very tough in the first year because of the inexperience of the side, a lot of them were playing their first test away from home.
“People underestimate Argentina, but their whole starting line-up plays in Europe and they are very experienced.”
Meyer was missing a quartet of injured players who would have been in the starting line-up in Schalk Burger, Bismarck du Plessis, Pierre Spies and JP Pietersen.
John Smit, Victor Matfield and Jaque Fourie have retired, while Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw and Gurtho Steenkamp are not playing rugby in South Africa.
The Springboks coach is set to announce his squad for the upcoming games against Australia and New Zealand but he said there would not be a raft of changes.
“It’s easy to say throw people out and pick new ones, but that’s not coaching, that’s picking,” he said. “I’ve been in this position a few times as a coach and the easiest thing is just to cut players, but that won’t move you forward.
“We’ve already lost a lot of leadership and then you’d be throwing out what little experience you’ve got.”
Meyer agreed that taking on Australia in Perth and New Zealand in Dunedin in their next two Rugby Championship fixtures would require a much-improved performance from the Springboks.
“The next two games will be even tougher and we have to improve. I know we can do it, but the only way the side will improve is by coaching them, improving their technique and mental strength,” Meyer said.