Heyneke Meyer believes that Bismarck du Plessis will play at least 50 more Tests for the Springboks, reports JON CARDINELLI in Buenos Aires.
Meyer has named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's clash against Argentina in Mendoza. The only alteration to the squad that featured in Johannesburg is at scrumhalf, with Jano Vermaak replacing Fourie du Preez, who is not available for South Africa's away fixtures in the Castle Rugby Championship.
The Boks have made great strides over the past four Tests, with the improved accuracy in their forward play and kicking game setting the platform for their attack. And in the latter discipline, they are also starting to show some potency.
Meyer has made the right call to stick with a settled combination, although it remains a point of contention when Du Plessis, one of the best players of his generation, will start ahead of the incumbent Adriaan Strauss.
Du Plessis has been named on the bench this weekend, and will earn his 50th cap for South Africa when he takes the field in the second half. While Meyer wants the Boks to build some continuity with the existing combinations, he has indicated that it might not be long before Du Plessis is back in the starting fray.
The Bok coach has also made it crystal clear that Du Plessis is in his long-term plans.
'The team is always bigger than the individual,' said Meyer. 'Bismarck knows where he stands.
'To play 50 Tests for your country is a great achievement, and to play most of those Tests while one of the real greats, John Smit, was around, only highlights Bismarck's quality.
'He's almost back to his best, and I believe he can play another 50. He's a superb player and he will certainly get more opportunities in the next few weeks.'
Meyer has said on numerous occasions that he is looking to develop a strong squad of 35 ahead of the 2015 World Cup. In Strauss and Du Plessis, he already has two excellent hooking options.
Du Plessis was the standout player for South Africa in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and it remains one of the great rugby tragedies that he did not start the major games at the global tournament in New Zealand.
Du Plessis reacted badly to that 2011 snub, and for good reason. At that point, he was playing the best rugby of his career while Smit's best years were well and truly behind him.
On Wednesday, ahead of the Test in Mendoza, however, Du Plessis didn't seem too disappointed to be starting from the bench.
He has only recently returned from a long-term injury, and realises that he is competing against a quality player in Strauss for that No 2 jersey.
'I hope the best is still to come. If I didn't believe I could improve, I wouldn't be here today,' Du Plessis said.
'You have to prove yourself every time you get out on the field. It's no good talking the talk, you have to walk the walk.'
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images
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