Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the first national training camp of 2013, held in Cape Town from Sunday to Tuesday, was a huge success, despite a number of front line players sitting out training because of injuries.
A Springbok training squad convened in Cape Town on Sunday, a day after the country’s top players took on each other in two physical Vodacom Super Rugby derbies.
“It was great to see the players again and the enthusiasm they have for playing for their country,” said Meyer.
“Even though this was only a first opportunity to get together this year and start our work ahead of the international season, with no selection guarantees, the players’ excitement was palpable. We’ve already done much more work than at this time last year.
“We’ve looked and analysed a lot of rugby matches during the last few months and have identified a number of areas where we aim to improve this year, with the breakdown top of our list.
“There are 120 to 160 breakdowns in every match and it’s my opinion that we can improve a lot in this very crucial area of the game.
“I don’t agree with the assertion that our Tests in June will be easy. Italy and Scotland finished higher in the Six Nations than Ireland and France and will arrive here very confident. Samoa gave the Springboks a real scare at the last Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and have improved a lot over the last number of years.”
Meyer said the high number of injuries was a concern, with a number of players taking little or no part in the training sessions.
“These and other injuries are obviously concerning, but all the players underwent medical examinations and should be fit by the time we start the Castle Lager Incoming Series in June,” said Meyer.
“It was encouraging to see the progress players with long term injuries made. It shows they are in good hands at their franchises. We would like to thank the franchises for the opportunity to work with the players on this camp, despite them being in the middle of a very tough competition.”
The next training camp is planned for Durban at the end of next month and the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series, involving Italy, Scotland and Samoa, will be named early in June.