That is good news, for Meyer also nervously admits that his team will be going into the test match against England at Kings Park without the safety net they have had for nearly 10 years – an experienced world class lock pairing that has played together often and knows each other well.
“It is quite strange to think that we are going into this match with two new locks. It is a new experience for the Springboks and a new experience for me and much is going to hinge on how the players adapt to test rugby,” said Meyer.
“Fortunately though both Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger, while new to international rugby, are both extremely talented players and I have utmost confidence in them.”
The Bok traditional strength has been at forward so it is interesting to note that the pack is where the inexperience is on Saturday. Flank Marcell Coetzee is also playing his first game for the Boks.
“Fortunately we have experience around them and they will help guide the youngsters,” said Meyer.
He’s not wrong about that. The all Sharks front row seldom takes a step backwards, and Pierre Spies and Willem Alberts were part of last year’s World Cup effort. What excites Meyer though is the energy he is witnessing at the start of a new era for Bok rugby.
“This has been the best week I have ever had in terms of pure attitude since I started coaching, and I am not just saying it because it is the Springboks. After last week’s tough derby matches in Super Rugby I couldn’t believe it when at the start of the week the medical staff told me everyone is fit to train.
“I have always said I will only pick players that are 110% hungry to play for South Africa and the 22 I have chosen for this game reflects the attitude I have seen this week. Every player has trained every day this week and not in my wildest dreams did I think that will be possible at this stage of a tough season. I can sense the players know good enough is not really good enough, only the best is good enough.”
Referring to his decision to appoint Bismarck du Plessis, who so long played in the shadow of John Smit, as his captain, Meyer said he could see leadership potential in the hooker, who could be in line to lead the team should Jean de Villiers fail to fire in these three tests against England or be injured.
“I believe Bismarck is a great leader and that we have three or four of the best hookers in the world,” said Meyer.