Johannesburg – Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer welcomed the calming effect Fourie du Preez brought to the team ahead of their Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The veteran of 62 Tests has been called into the Springbok squad for the first time since the Springboks’ quarterfinal defeat to Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“I was very impressed with Fourie du Preez today (Monday), I always knew he was a world-class player and it’s been an honour for me to coach him since he was 19-years-old,” Meyer said.
“He hasn’t lost anything. I know it was the first training session, but the small touches on the ball and the way he puts the forwards through the gaps.... I am very happy that I brought him in.
“You could also see the way he spoke to the youngsters, a guy like Siya (Kolisi) went up to him afterwards and he just brings a steady vibe to the team.”
Du Preez was part of Meyer’s plans at the start of his tenure as Springbok coach, but Du Preez, who plays for Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, felt he was not up to the task of playing for the national side.
After a year away from national duty Du Preez was a surprise inclusion ahead of the Rugby Championships and could find himself in the starting line-up on Saturday.
Meanwhile, team doctor Craig Roberts had no serious injuries to report on Monday.
“It’s been a good week. The only carry-over from last week is Beast (Mtawarira). He’s got a mild hamstring strain,” Roberts said.
“He tweaked it at training last week, he had half training today (Monday) and we are confident he’ll be ready for the weekend.”
Meyer hinted that he would not make wholesale changes to the team that won the Incoming Series in June, as he would prefer to stick with continuity.
Turning his attention to Argentina, Meyer said the South American team would be an improved team from their debut appearance in the competition.
“They also want to play a more expansive game, so they will be a better side and they’ve adapted to the competition now,” he said.
“In the beginning of the year they gave a lot of their players off and had deals with the clubs where they can have their full team. They’ve been in training for three to four weeks, so they will be fresh and ready to go.” – Sapa