‘Jean most comfortable at 12’

Heyneke Meyer says he wants to afford Jean de Villiers the opportunity to ‘lay down his marker as captain’ in his preferred position when the Springboks take on Japan.

De Villiers made his return to Test rugby at outside centre against Argentina in Durban in August, but over the past two seasons Meyer has solely deployed the Bok captain at 12.

Having first overcome a serious knee injury, and more recently a fractured jaw, Meyer made a noticeable statement when he opted to slot De Villiers straight back in at inside centre for this Saturday's World Cup opener, with Damian de Allende missing out.

‘Jean’s best position has always been 12, it’s closer to the action and especially in his first game I wanted to play him where he is most comfortable,’ Meyer explained. ‘We also want to get Jean going as soon as possible. He hasn’t played for quite some time and he has gone through a lot, and it is important that he can also put his marker down as a captain, so that is why he is playing in his preferred position.’

Meyer also reiterated his faith in scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who, he said, would receive 10 to 20 minutes of game time off the bench.

'Fourie is a world-class player, slowly but surely he's getting there and he's been superb in training. He just needs some game time now, and I think it will be better bringing him off the bench. I've always believed he's the best scrumhalf in the world and he's a main guy in our campaign.'

In explaining his selection of Zane Kirchner ahead of Willie le Roux, Meyer said he had been very impressed by the Leinster fullback, who will be familiar with northern hemisphere conditions.

However, he confirmed that Le Roux was still very much in the mix and would get a game at some point during the pool stage.

Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

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