“I have a special feeling about this team going forward. We’re on the right track and the results will come,” Meyer told journalists at the O.R. Tambo International Airport on Monday after the team’s return from New Zealand, where they were beaten 21-11 by the All Blacks in Dunedin.
“I thought we scrummed well and I’m very happy with our front row. The combination we used in the loose forwards was superb against the best loose trio in the world and we have four great locks going forward.
“There were lots of positives from Dunedin, especially from the forwards, and I believe we did enough to win that game. I think it instilled that self-belief in the team that they can beat anyone anywhere,” Meyer said.
South Africa dominated the first 50 minutes of the Rugby Championship test, but missed kicks at goal cost them 20 points.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn, the hero of their 2009 and 2010 campaigns, was responsible for 11 of those missed points and the waning influence of the Springbok backline has also been blamed on the 28-year-old pivot. But Meyer believes Steyn, who has started all seven matches this year under the new coach, still has a future at international level, pointing to the resurgence in form shown by wing Bryan Habana, South Africa’s all-time leading try-scorer who struggled with his form last year and played just six of the Springboks’ nine tests.
“I don’t want to knock individuals but the missed kicks were crucial. Morne is mentally tough though and if you look at what happened to Bryan Habana, with the right guidance he is now playing phenomenal rugby again. I don’t want to boost myself, but I’ve always been great at getting the best out of players and the mental break will do Morne well. We’ll look at the situation after this weekend’s Currie Cup matches and then decide who will play,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the way the Springboks dominated the All Blacks in Dunedin showed that the controversial game plan they were using was the right one.
“The guys were very unhappy not to win, but sometimes we’ve played worse rugby in New Zealand and won, it was just the goalkicking that let us down. Otherwise we did enough to win, it was the right game plan and we kept them under pressure, we just couldn’t convert that into points.
“It was 3-5 at half-time, but it could have been 15-5 if we’d made our kicks, that would have built pressure and they would have had to chase the game. There’s always criticism about the game plan, but I believe we got it 100% right, we just didn’t put the kicks over. We had them under pressure,” Meyer said.
The Springbok squad for their last two Rugby Championship matches, both at home against Australia in Pretoria on September 29 and New Zealand in Soweto on October 6, will be named on Saturday night after the Currie Cup games have been completed.
South Africa have an outside chance of still claiming the title if they register bonus-point wins in both those home fixtures and the All Blacks lose in Argentina without getting a bonus point.