Meyer: ‘Goosen has point to prove’

Heyneke Meyer says Johan Goosen and other fringe players must use this opportunity against Italy to prove they can add value, reports JON CARDINELLI in Padova.

Meyer has made four changes to the starting lineup, and included two uncapped players on the bench. The Boks are adamant that a win against Italy will be hard-earned, although the coach has conceded that winning is not the only objective this Saturday.

Meyer has opted to experiment with Goosen at No 15. Trevor Nyakane wins his first start for the Boks, while Coenie Oosthuizen comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis. The only other change to the starting XV is at No 7, with Teboho Mohoje coming in for Schalk Burger who has returned to his club in Japan.

On the bench, prop Gurthrö Steenkamp covers for Nyakane. Tighthead Julian Redelinghuys will win his first cap if he gets on the park, as will No 8 Nizaam Carr.

Meyer said he was excited to see what the new players would offer. The Bok coach also believes that Goosen will be a success at fullback, and is a more rounded player since moving to Racing Métro.

Goosen will return to his French club next week, and is unavailable for the Boks’ final tour game against Wales. It’s now or never in terms of showing Meyer that he is a realistic fullback option for next year’s World Cup

‘I believe Johan can become a world-class fullback, and that he will still offer a good option at 10,’ said Meyer. ‘Pat Lambie can cover 15 but I thought it would unsettle him to move him at this stage. This will be a big test for Johan. The Italy flyhalf kicks tactically well, and so his positional play will need to be good.

‘Johan is a great attacking player and a very brave defender. He kicks the ball a mile, but his positional play will be under scrutiny this week. I’ve told him not to try too hard in the attempt to make this chance count. He will make mistakes.'

The Bok coach backed Goosen to start at No 10 in 2012, and it was clear even back then that Goosen was a special player. A struggle with form and injuries in subsequent seasons saw him dropping out of the squad. It was only after moving to France that he rediscovered his mojo.

‘I don’t like it when players play for overseas clubs, but Goosen has changed since moving to France,’ Meyer revealed. ‘He’s more mature and in a good mental space. I can see that he is enjoying his rugby again.

'He started very young at this level but then he had a few serious injuries. Perhaps it was a good thing for him to get away from the pressure as well.’

Meyer added that the game against Italy represents a great opportunity for the likes of Nyakane and Oosthuizen. The Bok coach also wants to see if Redelinghuys and Carr are suited to this level of competition, and whether they are the right type of players for these northern hemisphere conditions.

Mark Keohane: More fringe players needed exposure against Italy

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Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

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Jon Cardinelli