Flyhalf Morne Steyn, who has added wayward goalkicking to laborious attacking play, and fullback Zane Kirchner have been the two players most criticised after the Springboks’ poor away run comprising defeats to New Zealand and Australia and a draw with tournament newcomers Argentina, but both have been retained in the squad.
Meyer has, however, increased his options in both positions by calling up the Lions duo of flyhalf Elton Jantjies and fullback Jaco Taute, both uncapped, although Jantjies has been a member of Springbok squads before.
Veteran 32-year-old prop CJ van der Linde, whose last Springbok appearance was exactly a year ago against Namibia in the Rugby World Cup, has been recalled, as has youngster Coenie Oosthuizen, who has played just 35 minutes of Currie Cup rugby for the Free State Cheetahs after injuring his neck in the first test against England on June 9.
Meyer said in a statement that he had always admired the 21-year-old Taute’s play, but had been prevented from selecting him earlier due to injuries.
“I’d always wanted to include Jaco in the squad, but an untimely injury meant we could not select him earlier. Jaco is big, strong, fast and versatile and it will be good to get him involved,” Meyer said.
With both tighthead props, Jannie du Plessis and Pat Cilliers, carrying injury niggles last week, and Dean Greyling suspended, Meyer has called up Van der Linde and Oosthuizen, who can both play on either side of the scrum.
Meyer is under enormous public pressure to drop Steyn, who succeeded with just one of his five kicks at goal in the 11-21 loss to the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend, and play either Johan Goosen or Jantjies, who has led the Lions to the top of the Currie Cup standings, as his starting flyhalf.
But Meyer has refused to commit himself by keeping Steyn in the squad and his only comment on the flyhalf situation was to say: “Elton was part of the squad before this season, against England in June and in the first part of the Rugby Championship. He only missed out when we had to cut the numbers of the squad and it’s good to have him back.”
South Africa have to beat both Australia and New Zealand with a bonus point, while hoping the All Blacks lose in Argentina, to have any chance of winning the inaugural Rugby Championship title.
“There were a number of positives we took from the matches in Perth and Dunedin and it is imperative that we build on those.
“The tests against Australia and New Zealand won’t be easy. The All Blacks are unbeaten this year and the Wallabies have done well to win their last two matches, so we will have to be at our best at Loftus Versfeld and Soccer City.
“But I’m happy with the progress we’ve made on tour and the big challenge will be to now take the next step as we grow as a team,” Meyer said.
Squad – Pat Lambie, Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Francois Steyn, Jaco Taute, Francois Hougaard, Lwazi Mvovo, Johan Goosen, Elton Jantjies, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Jacques Potgieter, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Juandre Kruger, Andries Bekker, Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Pat Cilliers, Adriaan Strauss, Tiaan Liebenberg, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira, CJ van der Linde, Coenie Oosthuizen.