London – South Africa will have to adapt to 'arm-wrestle' rugby rather than the expansive game they showed in the Rugby Championship when they meet Wales at the start of their European tour in Cardiff on Saturday, coach Heyneke Meyer said.
The Springboks put more points on the board than world champions New Zealand in the recent southern hemisphere tournament, bagging 23 tries in six matches.
But Meyer said they will have to be more conservative against Wales, showing more patience to keep the ball through the phases.
“This is a totally different game than the Rugby Championship, it's more of an arm-wrestle,” Meyer told a news conference in Cardiff on Monday.
“We have to change the way we play, we have to be more clinical and execute better.”
Meyer has told his players that this tour, more than the Rugby Championship, will be an audition for the World Cup to be hosted by England in 2015, and that those who do not prove their ability to adapt to northern hemisphere conditions face the axe.
“In our last end of season tour we learnt a lot about our players. A lot of players from that tour aren't here any more,” Meyer said.
“It's very important to have the World Cup in the back of your mind, to see which players can play at this level against three tough teams and in these difficult conditions.
“By the end of this tour we should be close to knowing 25 of the 30 players who will go to the World Cup.”
Meyer also gave a frank assessment of the problem areas in his side and said converting pressure into points is one of his major concerns.
“In these conditions you are not going to have as many opportunities so you have to convert those into points.
“Against New Zealand [at Ellis Park on Oct. 5] we had 17 line-breaks and scored just four tries, they had seven line-breaks and scored five tries. That's not good enough, we get a lot of opportunities and don't use them.
“Our scrumming was awesome in the Rugby Championship, we gave the least amount of restarts and the least amount of collapsed scrums.
“I think we have really improved at the breakdown, but here in the northern hemisphere it is more 50-50 on the ground.
“Our lineouts have been close to 100 percent, though I'm not happy with our kick-offs. We give away too many turn overs, we need to look after the ball better. Here [in the northern hemisphere] you need to be patient and wait for your opportunities to convert pressure into points.”
Meyer said facing Six Nations champions Wales was both a daunting prospect and a great challenge for his side.
“Wales are an unbelievable team, they have shown they can beat the best. They have been together for a while now and have a simple game-plan but they execute it very well.
“They are a very balanced side, big backs, big forwards, great rushing defence and they can score tries as well. We see this as a very big game for us, a huge challenge.” – Reuters