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Ken Borland

Meyer philosophical about Fourie unavailability

Posted on April 24, 2012 by Ken

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said in Pretoria on Thursday that he understood star centre Jaque Fourie’s reasons for making himself unavailable for the Springboks this year.

The 29-year-old Fourie, who has been capped 69 times for South Africa since 2003, announced on Wednesday that he was unavailable for the Springboks while he completes the second year of his contract with Japanese club Kobelco Steelers.

“I respect Jaque thoughts in not making himself available but it’s a pity because he’s close to being the best outside centre in the world and he was definitely an integral part of my plans. But it’s very important that the players I choose are focused on the South African cause and want to play for the Springboks. If there’s pressure from their overseas clubs, then I understand,” Meyer told reporters in Pretoria on Thursday.

The new Springbok coach added, however, that the door was not closed to Fourie to make a return to the Springboks ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

“I’d like to speak again with Jaque in two years time, because we’ll be going into our World Cup plans and I hope he can still be there then.”

Meyer, who had just completed the first of three planning camps with potential Springbok players, drawn from the Cheetahs and the Lions, said however that there was plenty of talent at his disposal to replace senior players who were not available this year.

“The absence of players like Jaque is great for the youngsters and even the more experienced guys – I’ve told the players that even if they’re 29 and haven’t yet played for the Springboks, that they still have a chance of being chosen. There were one or two players at this camp that I haven’t worked with before and I can see that they are great players. There’s enough depth in South African rugby,” Meyer said.

“I’ve had one-on-ones with every player and they know where they stand and I now understand their roles in their franchises and why they do certain things. I have much more insight into them, which is great, and they know exactly what I want.”

Former Blue Bulls and Leicester coach Meyer said he had concerns over the number of injuries to experienced Springboks who were potential successors to the retired John Smit as captain.

“There’ve been a lot of injuries – guys like Schalk Burger, Juan Smith and Jean de Villiers are all out of action – while there’s been speculation about Victor Matfield playing again and Fourie du Preez isn’t back yet from Japan. I want to give every player the same opportunity to captain South Africa and I’m not going to rush and make a wrong decision. So I’ll announce the captain the week before the first England test and he’ll be captain only for those three tests,” Meyer said.

Senior Springboks like scrumhalf Du Preez, lock Bakkies Botha and utility forward Danie Rossouw have all signed with overseas clubs and Meyer said he was in negotiations with them, their clubs and agents about their availability.

Meyer on Thursday announced a list of 45 players from the Bulls and Sharks, who both have SuperRugby byes next week, to attend the second planning camp, in Pretoria from Sunday to next Thursday.

Planning camp squad – Forwards: Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis, Craig Burden, Jannie du Plessis, Dale Chadwick, Steven Sykes, Jan-André Marais, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Willem Alberts, Ryan Kankowski, Lubabalo Mtembu (all Sharks), Dean Greyling, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Werner Kruger, Frik Kirsten, Flip van der Merwe, Juandre Kruger, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Deon Stegmann, CJ Stander, Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha (all Bulls). Backs: Charl McLeod, Pat Lambie, Odwa Ndungane, Sibusiso Sithole, Tim Whitehead, JP Pietersen, Lwazi Mvovo, Louis Ludik, Riaan Viljoen (all Sharks), Francois Hougaard, Jano Vermaak, Morné Steyn, Bjorn Basson, Wynand Olivier, Francois Venter, Johann Sadie, JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, Zane Kirchner (all Bulls).

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