South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday he will retain most of the team that flopped in Argentina for Rugby Championship Tests in Australia and New Zealand next month.
A try off a charge down by centre Francois Steyn enabled the Springboks to snatch an undeserved 16-16 draw in Mendoza last Saturday against the southern hemisphere championship newcomers.
Rattled for most of the match by more committed opponents, South Africa were outplayed in the loose, lost the line-out battle, and a possession-starved backline rarely threatened when it did have the ball.
But Meyer, who succeeded out-of-contract Peter de Villiers last January after the defending champions made a quarter-finals exit from the 2011 World Cup, ruled out major changes when he announces his squad this week for Australasia.
“It is easy to throw players out and pick new ones, but that is not coaching, that is picking,” he told reporters at OR Tambo airport in an eastern Johannesburg suburb.
“I have been in this position a few times during my career as a coach and the easiest thing to do is just drop players — but that will not move the Springboks forward.
“We have already lost a lot of leadership and then you would be throwing out what little experience you have got,” said the Super Rugby title-winning former Bulls coach.
Retirements, injuries, moves abroad and selection changes meant South Africa faced Los Pumas with only four of the team beaten 11-9 by Australia in the World Cup — Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Morne Steyn and Jannie du Plessis.
John Smit and Victor Matfield have retired, JP Pietersen, Pierre Spies and Schalk Burger are injured, Jaque Fourie, Fourie du Preez and Danie Rossouw play in Japan and Gurthro Steenkamp in France.
Meyer dropped the other two starters against the Wallabies with Zane Kirchner replacing Patrick Lambie at fullback and flank Heinrich Brussow discarded because the coach prefers big ball carriers to “scavengers”.
“I knew it would be very tough in my first year with the Springboks because of the inexperience of the team, and a lot of them were playing their first Test away from home.
“Our performance in Argentina was not good enough, it was unacceptable and I was very disappointed, but people underestimate the Pumas — virtually their whole team plays in Europe and they are very experienced.”
The Mendoza draw marked the end of the honeymoon period for Meyer after a 2-0 mid-year series win over England and a 27-6 home victory over Argentina in the opening round of the Rugby Championship.
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