Meyer’s neme­sis

Rugby: De­spite an ex­cel­lent record, he’s never beaten the All Blacks

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF dan.retief@city­ * The win­ning record of all rugby-play­ing na­tions is 23, held by Cyprus

The All Blacks will once again be Heyneke Meyer’s bug­bear when the 2014 Rugby Cham­pi­onship kicks off on Satur­day.

In a re­peat of the home-away-home se­quence that worked so well last year, Meyer’s Spring­boks will be up against Ar­gentina just as the sun is set­ting on Lof­tus Vers­feld.

But it would be a sur­prise if the coach did not de­lay the team’s de­par­ture from Sand­ton un­til af­ter 2pm. The rea­son? The All Blacks will be play­ing against the Wal­la­bies in Sydney at noon and Meyer prob­a­bly won’t be able to tear him­self away from the TV set.

Apart from be­ing the cham­pi­ons for the past two years, the All Blacks will be 80 min­utes away from claim­ing the long­est-ever test-match win­ning streak among Tier 1 na­tions by scor­ing their 18th con­sec­u­tive vic­tory.*

The All Blacks, who have twice reached 17 straight wins, jointly hold the record with the Spring­boks (who achieved the feat un­der Nick Mal­lett from 1997 to 1998) and Meyer will be dou­bly in­ter­ested in how they fare be­cause he has never beaten them.

Since Meyer’s ten­ure be­gan in 2012, he has an ex­cep­tional record of 20 wins and two draws in the 27 tests in which he has been in charge.

On the four oc­ca­sions he’s met the All Blacks, he has failed to reg­is­ter a win.

As with last year, the Boks will have two tests against Ar­gentina, in Pre­to­ria and at a new venue in Salta (a city in north­west­ern Ar­gentina), be­fore tak­ing on big guns Aus­tralia and New Zealand down un­der next month.

The Pu­mas will be an un­known quan­tity on Satur­day. Af­ter tak­ing a 73-13 thrash­ing at FNB Sta­dium last year, they were close to scor­ing a mas­sive up­set be­fore go­ing down 17-22 in the re­turn game in Mendoza.

But they have since un­der­gone a trans­for­ma­tion as they pre­pare for next year’s World Cup.

New coach Daniel Hour­cade has se­lected a squad with a blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence, many of whom were part of the out­fit that won the Vo­da­com Cup in South Africa two sea­sons ago. And he has ap­pointed a new cap­tain in Agustín Creevy, in spite of the pres­ence of two for­mer cap­tains in the squad in Juan Martín Fernán­dez Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguiza­món.

DASH Siya Kolisi of South Africa dur­ing the 2013 Cas­tle Lager Rugby Cham­pi­onship match against Ar­gentina at FNB Sta­dium. Ex­pect ac­tion when the two sides clash in this year’s ver­sion on Satur­day

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