Being the Springbok head coach is not an easy job. The South African rugby loving public are a hostile bunch and pull no punches when things are going awry. Fans and sports journalists alike are often too quick to criticize and point fingers. There are times when one cannot help but feel for the man in charge, after all it is not he who fumbles the ball on line in a frenzy of white line fever, kicks it out on the full or any other number of common rugby errors. However, the Curious Case of Heyneke Meyer is not one of those times.
We, the South African rugby public, find ourselves with one win, one draw and two losses from our first four games of the Castle Rugby Championship. Meyer has refused to heed to the calls of so many regarding team selection and although I admire his faith in his own selections and his belief in his players to give the performances he “knows” they are capable of, this is not a primary school rugby team he is coaching. This is not a remake of the feel-good family movie “The Mighty Ducks.” This is our national team, consisting of professionals who are paid to perform for their country. This is business. And business is bad. So heads must roll.
|Nik-Nak, paddy wack, give Kirchner the boot.|
Morne Steyn has never been my choice at flyhalf, even when he was at the top of his game. At the moment, I wouldn’t pick him for my team in a game of touch rugby on the beach against a bunch of winos. He looks lost on the field, cannot direct a backline, and seems to be void of any self confidence. He seems allergic to the ball and so either kicks it with his eyes closed or passes it to someone in a worse position than himself; a difficult thing to do considering how badly he places himself as soon as a ball is about to come his way. Johan Goosen on the other hand, looks at ease when he steps into the flyhalf channel. Even against the intimidating All Black unit he was composed, confident, and unfazed by the train wreck he walked into with 20 minutes left on the clock. This kid was born in a number 10 jersey and I have no doubt in my mind he will go on to become one of the greatest flyhalves we've ever produced. That is if Meyer will give him the chance to play.
It is unfair to judge Frans Steyn and Jean de Villiers too harshly for their performances considering who they are playing behind. The centre duo have not exactly blown anyone away during this competition, but they haven’t been cringe-worthy either. Many will disagree, but to those I merely ask to judge these guys on their performances in a backline with a flyhalf directing the game adequately, instead of one who has them playing off of the back foot in every attacking phase . Francois Hougaard, as much as it pains me to say, has played well on the wing. Habana has had a decent season so far, give or take a few mishaps. Ruan Pienaar had a shocker against the All Blacks but without a decent flyhalf to pass to he was forced to assume much of the tactical kicking responsibility and it turned out badly. We all know what he is capable of on another day. I think by bringing in Goosen and Lambie we would see the entire backline playing some great running rugby that would restore our faith in our once mighty team.
In my opinion our new lock pair has to be Andries Bekker and Flip van der Merwe. Bekker is great in the lineouts, which he illustrated to great effect as he turned Springbok fortunes around when he came on for Kruger. Flip is reliable in the lineouts and amazing on defence. He topped the tackling statistics with thirteen hits, showing how much of a workhorse he is. I know many will disagree with me, and will argue that Eben Etzebeth should be there, but I honestly believe South Africa needs to stamp out ill discipline, it's costing us not only our reputation but also points.
Any talk of ill discipline can only lead us to the inexcusable performance of Dean Greyling. This man should never be allowed to see a Springbok jersey again in his life. Besides his barbaric assault on the iconic Richie McCaw, he was useless throughout his short stint in the front row, handing out penalties, getting in the way and seeing us a man down for 10 minutes when it counted the most. I have no idea why Tendai Mtawarira was taken off; perhaps to be rested, perhaps as another of Meyer’s sick jokes. Heyneke may as well have left the position empty, it would have been less detrimental in the long run.
This would be my team to take on the Wallabies at the end of the month:
15 Pat Lambie 14 Bryan Habana 13 Jean de Villiers 12 Frans Steyn 11 Francois Hougaard 10 Johan Goosen 9 Ruan Pienaar 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Willem Alberts 6 Heinrich Brussow 5 Andries Bekker 4 Flip van der Merwe 3 Jannie du Plessis 2 Adriaan Strauss 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Please feel free to comment, argue, defend or insult my opinions. I would love to see how others feel about the current state of SA Rugby.
Written by Quinten Letcher for @Hollywoodbets.
Well there you have it folks. Do as he says.