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Meyer yet to name captain

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer named a squad blending youth with experience to face England.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. Picture: EWN

PRETORIA - - South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer failed to pick a captain and dropped openside flanker Heinrich Brussow on Saturday when he named a squad blending youth with experience to face England in a three-test series.

Meyer is faced with a leadership vacuum after former captain John Smit left to play in England while former vice captain Victor Matfield retired from all rugby after last year's World Cup.

Stormers captain Schalk Burger, who appears to be the most likely choice for the Springboks captaincy, has been battling a knee injury and had already been ruled out of the series.

Local media had reported that former scrumhalf Fourie du Preez, who has been playing in Japan, and Matfield could have been tempted out of retirement as a stop-gap captaincy measure for the series that begins on June 9 in Durban.

However Meyer said on Saturday that having spoken to du Preez, the scrumhalf had said he was not up to the rigors of international rugby.

"I have a lot of respect for Fourie but he knows my motto is team first. I had a few meetings with him and he said he wasn't 100 percent sure he's at his best, having not played for two-and-a-half months," the coach told a news conference.

"It was a hard decision to leave him out but it shows the character of the man that he told me to go with the youngsters if I felt he was a 50-50 selection. I will now chat to the senior players before naming my captain."

Meyer also dropped Brussow, who is widely considered one of the best openside flankers in the world, because changes to the rule interpretations are resulting in more penalties at the breakdown against his type of player.

"That was a tough call because Heinrich is still up with the best opensides in the game, but the game has changed. They're being penalised more and hookers are stealing more ball now.

"If the laws change, which they will, then he'll definitely be in the mix. But at the moment it's up to him to adapt to the laws."

Meyer named nine uncapped players in the squad, while 15 of last year's World Cup squad were included, as he faces an England team rebuilding ahead of the 2015 World Cup.

"I wanted to start the season with an experienced squad to face England, who are a good, tough side, but injuries have made this difficult," Meyer said.

"This is a team that can play winning test rugby - brutal defence, big forwards running at each other, tactical kicking and direct rugby.

"This team can play to our typical South African strengths and the side that plays best to their pattern is normally the one that wins."

South Africa squad:

Backs - Zane Kirchner, Pat Lambie, Bjorn Basson, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Frans Steyn, Wynand Olivier, Morne Steyn, Elton Jantjies, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak*.

Forwards - Pierre Spies, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Jacques Potgieter, Marcell Coetzee, Keegan Daniel, Juandre Kruger, Franco van der Merwe, Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Werner Kruger, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen.