Rugby: South Africa can still win World Cup, says coach

BIRMINGHAM (REUTERS) - South Africa can still win the Rugby World Cup, coach Heyneke Meyer declared on Wednesday as he rung the changes after last Saturday's shock defeat against Japan.

"I've been knocked down a few times in my life but mostly come back, so I still believe we can do it," he told a press conference in Birmingham.

"But the players need to put up their hands, the coaching staff as well.

"What happened against Japan just wasn't good enough. But if we all stand together, play like I know we can, play to our strengths and have the mental toughness, back our captain, I know we can still do it."

Meyer spelt out his displeasure with the 34-32 defeat against Japan by making eight changes when he named his side for the Springboks' second Pool B game against Samoa at Villa Park on Saturday.

"I picked guys who can handle pressure and now it's up to the players to show that. We were not good enough against Japan and now the pressure is on and it's not going to go away.

"To win the World Cup you need to win seven games. Tongue in cheek, and I know it's not the right time to make a joke, but we only need to win six games now."

South Africa will still be missing the power of Willem Alberts, however. A calf injury has kept the flanker out since June and his planned comeback against Japan was postponed when he pulled out on the eve of the match.

Meyer said Alberts was not considered for Saturday's clash at Villa Park.

Samoa beat the United States 25-16 in their opener on Sunday, and Scotland, the final team in the pool, began their tournament with a 45-10 crushing of Japan on Wednesday.