Cape Town – Heyneke Meyer has defended his selection of several “30-somethings” in the Springbok squad to do duty during the Castle Lager Incoming Series this month.
Speaking to the rugby media on Sunday in Cape Town, the Springbok coach said that all over the world successful teams included a raft of experienced players.
“I watched Toulon win the (Top 14) final last night (Saturday) and saw the role experience played in their win,” Meyer said.
“Most of the successful teams around the world have many experienced players. Some of them have been written off but some of them move on and become super stars.”
Meyer has opted for ageing players like Victor Matfield (37), Schalk Burger (31), Fourie du Preez (32), Bakkies Botha (34) and Schalk Brits (33), saying they all proved they were still good enough.
“You can't go about team building every year.
“The youth brings enthusiasm to the squad but we need a balance. Some of the (Springbok) players who have moved on have become super stars in another country after they were written off (in South Africa).”
Meyer said he was not surprised that Matfield was back to his best form after coming out of retirement.
“Victor has been in superb form and I'm not surprised.
“He's always wanted to be the fittest in the Bulls group. He has showed that he’s not only back for the money but he also wants to be the best.”
Meyer said he was aware that every time a national squad was selected there were “unlucky” players.
“I feel that selections can be harsh and it can impact of players and their families.
“Some times it (non-selection) also seems unfair and then some times deserving players are struck by injuries. But the guys who were at the camp last week and did not make the final 36-man squad, will now know that they are in the (selection) picture, especially if there are injuries (in the Bok squad).”
The 36-man squad is bigger than the usual squad used for the mid-year Incoming Series and Meyer said he asked for extra matches and players with the view of preparing for next year’s World Cup.
“I have asked for two extra matches and players because it helps players to hit form,” he explained.
“We have one eye on the World Cup and it will be a great thing if players can get their chance to perform.
“There is also the question of injuries just before a World Cup. It is an unbelievable opportunity for youngsters to get know how to adapt (at international level) and it also gives them an idea of how good they must be.” – Sapa