Du Preez set for World Cup role

Fourie du Preez remains in line to go to the World Cup despite failing to recover from injury in time to feature for the Boks this season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

Du Preez has been struggling with a knee injury, and although it was hoped he would be able to play against Argentina, he has not recovered in time.

The 33-year-old last played for the Boks against Scotland in June 2014, but coach Heyneke Meyer insisted he knew what he had in a player like Du Preez.

‘I won’t play someone if he’s not ready. Fourie really wants to play, all the guys are very hungry. But Fourie just isn’t 100% and I feel if I play him now it will put him at risk for the World Cup, that’s the bigger picture. We need him fit for the World Cup, if he hasn’t played there will be criticism, but I know he’s a warrior and I’ll always pick a player I believe in.’

Zane Kirchner and Pat Lambie will start their first games of the season against Argentina on Saturday, at fullback and flyhalf respectively, and Meyer said it was the right time for them to start.

‘After me, Zane is probably the most criticised guy in South Africa,’ Meyer commented with a wry chuckle. ‘When he played 15, and Morné [Steyn] was at 10, we had an 80% winning record. Then everyone wanted someone like Pollie [Handré Pollard] to come in, he’s performed brilliantly, but then the same people booed him off the field last weekend. So, as a coach you learn that you have to stick to what you believe in, and I believe Zane has always been brilliant.

‘I wanted to start Morné [last weekend], and Pat at fullback, and under pressure I decided to stick with the same side,’ Meyer admitted. ‘With Willie [le Roux] injured, you need a fullback who can safely field the high ball and can attack as well. Then I felt I needed to give Pat a run at 10, he can start as a 10, and I just felt it would be unfair to move him to fullback now. Zane has always done well there and deserves a chance.’

Meyer said he did have concerns about Jean de Villiers, who fractured his jaw against Argentina last Saturday, and is set to be out for four to six weeks.

‘There are some guys who are going to be 50-50, but we just have to take it day by day, it’s not a position we wanted to be in. But we’ll see how he is a little closer to the cut-off time.’

Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix

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Craig Lewis