Meyer backs his Boks to batter England


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The Independent Online

Heyneke Meyer is very clear about his primary responsibility as coach of the South Africa rugby team – nothing but winning will suffice.

"I believe in two types of rugby; winning rugby and losing rugby, there is nothing in between for me," said the man who has been entrusted with the fortunes of the Springboks over the next four years. "I've always said attack puts bums on seats but defence wins games. I'll rather take an ugly win than lose a game playing great rugby."

The former Leicester coach 44, took charge in January, succeeding the controversial Peter de Villiers. His first task is the three-Test series against England. There will no revolutionary change in approach or shift from the tough and physical game that has always been the Springbok way.

"I intend to play to South Africa's strengths which is great big forwards and skilful backs," said Meyer, who comes to the job after South Africa's failure to defend their World Cup crown in New Zealand last year, where they lost in the quarter-finals to Australia, and at a time when many long-serving players have ended their international careers.

"We had great players in 2007 [when the Boks won the World Cup in France] and in 2011 I thought we had some of the greatest players in world rugby, but a lot of them have moved on now," he said. "I'm very positive about the young players coming through and a lot have put up their hands in this year's Super Rugby championship and that makes me excited.

"My job will be picking the right guys, putting the right structures around them and creating the environment where they can excel."

England were dealt a blow yesterday when the prop Matt Stevens was ruled out of the tour with a shoulder injury that he sustained in the 57-26 win against the Barbarians on Sunday. He has been replaced by Gloucester's Rupert Harden.

England's head coach, Stuart Lancaster, said the injury was "really tough" on Stevens. He added: "We wish him all the best but it's a great opportunity for Rupert, who has been the first-choice tighthead for Gloucester this season and also involved in the Saxons during the Six Nations."