Springboks to host unique Test tournament

Reuters, CAPE TOWN

Thu, Jun 06, 2013 - Page 19

The Springboks will have an opportunity to continue a rebuilding process that has yet to provide any tangible evidence of growth and improvement when they host a unique quadrangular tournament over the next three weekends.

Coach Heyneke Meyer will be hoping to use Tests in Durban, Nelspruit and Pretoria to expand the depth of his squad by mixing and matching combinations against Italy, Scotland and possibly Samoa.

Meyer, who started the job a year ago with a stuttering series win over England, said he would try to balance the principle of picking the strongest possible side against the need to add depth in the buildup to the 2015 World Cup.

“For the World Cup, we’ll need 30 or so players all capable of playing Test rugby and doing it well, and we need to know who we can rely on,” he told reporters this week.

“The series gives us an opportunity to look at the players in the wider group and I’ll be doing that in the first two games,” Meyer added.

Samoa take on Scotland in the tournament opener in Durban on Saturday, followed immediately by South Africa against Italy in the first of an unparalleled series of Test rugby double-headers.

In Nelspruit on June 15, the Italians play the Samoans first, followed by the Springboks against the Scots.

Teams will earn four points for a win, two for a draw with bonus points on offer for a loss of seven points or less and for scoring four or more tries.

On June 22 in Pretoria, the bottom two teams in the standings play first, followed by the tournament final between the two top sides.

Scotland included three new caps in their side for the first encounter and despite losing three key players to the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia, they have a settled look about their team.

Samoa were thrashed 74-14 in a warm-up match by the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday, but only had a limited squad available and had to borrow local students to fill their team.

They have since been bolstered by more arrivals.

Italy have the bulk of their squad from the recent Six Nations Championship, in which they enjoyed shock wins over both France and Ireland.