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What is the Boks' best team?

Although the first priority should be to win all of their matches in Pool B and gain some meaningful momentum, the Boks will face a tough quarterfinal regardless of whether they finish first or second and Meyer will need to use the next four matches to take a careful look at all of his options and settle on his best side for that game.

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The team named to face Japan in the opening game was heralded as the most experienced side in Springbok history, and it is the veterans who will need to use this opportunity to prove their worth more than anyone.

Players like Jean de Villiers, Victor Matfield, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw and Fourie du Preez have had very little gametime of late, and although Meyer has shown faith in them by taking them to England, they must now produce the goods and show that they deserve their places.What is the Boks' best team?

While Meyer has placed a high value on experience in this World Cup campaign, he also needs to take note of form and which players are firing before he sits down to pick his side for the quarterfinal.

It will be particularly interesting to see what sort of impact Du Preez provides off the bench in what will be his first Test this year, which could strengthen the argument to keep the likes of himself and Matfield on the bench to close out the game when their experience will count most in the quarterfinal.

This turns the pool stage into something of a trial for all of the members in the squad, and although Meyer might pick something close to his strongest side for the games against Scotland and Samoa, those games will provide crucial insight into which players should be relied upon in the cauldron of knock-out rugby.

This will need to be done while keeping a certain level of continuity in terms of important combinations in the side, as wholesale changes for each match could rob them of momentum and confidence.

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By the end of the pool stage Meyer must be in no doubt about his best team and how best to make use of the players at his disposal, which means there will be far more to his selections in the coming month than just picking the best available match-day 23.

It will be a tricky balancing act to give all 31 players the opportunity to state their case while maintaining the stability required to hit the quarterfinal with four wins under their belt and full of confidence.

However, the reality is that right now Meyer does not know what his best team is as he has not seen a number of his key players perform under pressure for some time, and he still has quite a lot to learn about which players he can rely on in the quarterfinal which will be the most important game in his tenure.

By Michael de Vries

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