Meyer hopes progress continues
October 7, 2012
Heyneke Meyer has enjoyed a mixed first season as Springbok coach with four wins, two draws and three defeats © Getty Images
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer may have been left licking his wounds following his side's 32-16 loss at home to New Zealand, but he is hopeful that his team will continue to progress towards the 2015 World Cup.
The Springboks finished the Rugby Championship in third place, level with Australia on 12 points, but 14 points behind the all-conquering All Blacks. It has been a mixed first season for the former Blue Bulls and Leicester Tigers coach and he has overseen four wins, two draws and three losses. South Africa have three Tests left in 2012, away to Ireland, Scotland and England in November.
He was happy to admit that his side still has some way to go to close the gap on the world champions.
"They are a quality side and although we are the second best team in the world we still have a long way to go and there is currently a huge difference between second and first," Meyer said. "They are the world champions and have won a lot of games. The reason why they are such a great side is that even if they play badly they have players who can burst through and get them off the hook so they have a lot of freedom to play with."
The Springboks have not beaten New Zealand since August 2011 when they won 18-5 in Port Elizabeth. As well as the defeat in Johannesburg on Saturday they also lost 21-11 in Dunedin earlier in the tournament.
Nonetheless Meyer is pleased with the way the young players he introduced to the team have taken their opportunities in Test rugby. Centre Jaco Taute, fly-half Johan Goosen and second-row Eben Etzebeth are three players who have taken their chance since being handed their test debuts this year and Meyer is confident they and others will be better prepared to face New Zealand in future Tests.
"It will take a special team to beat them and I think you will need some luck," he said. "We were in the game but you have to capitalise on that and we did not. It will take a special team to beat them and hopefully a great referee but a year is a long time in rugby and I believe in these youngsters of mine and we will be a stronger side by next year after three test matches and another Rugby Championship."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
As Ray McLoughlin prepares to celebrate his 75th birthday, Huw Richards pays tribute to the man and the selectors who had the wisdom to bring him into the Ireland fold
John Taylor argues the world's best XVs players must be given a chance to play in the Olympics to increase the appeal of the game
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament