Rugby - Meyer demands Springboks improvement in key areas

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has demanded improvement in several key areas as the Springboks begin their international season this week.

Reuters
Rugby - Meticulous planner Meyer prepared for Paris
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Heyneke Meyer

Meyer has named nine uncapped players in his squad for the four nations tournament involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa starting in Durban next week, in part to blood younger players but also to rectify problems the side suffered last year.

"We have to improve in all areas," Meyer told a news conference on Saturday.

"We need a step-up in the scrums and we need a huge step-up at the breakdown. We have spoken to the (Super Rugby) franchises and suddenly we can see our sides are getting quicker ball."

Meyer added that he had targeted converting penalties as his major concern, with sloppy place-kicking costing the side dearly last season.

"The biggest step-up for me is the goal-kicking. Last year, we were at 56 percent in the goal-kicking and just 29 percent against the All Blacks.

"(Flyhalves) Pat Lambie and Morne Steyn are now kicking at 75 percent plus in Super Rugby and with that last year we would have won a few more test matches. I need a huge improvement there."

The coach is also concerned with his side's behaviour on the pitch.

"Our discipline all over needs to improve. On our end of season tour, I wasn't happy with the number of penalties we gave away," he said.

However, Meyer does see some positives ahead of South Africa's season opener against Italy on Saturday.

"There is a perception that we don't score tries, but you need to look at the facts. I hear that we should play like the Australian backs but they scored 15 tries in 14 games last year.

"We scored the second most tries in international rugby with 22 in 12 games. Test match rugby is about using your opportunities. (But) we still want to improve our backline play and score more," the coach said.

"I am (also) very happy with our defence and our lineouts," he added.

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