What exactly is Heynecke doing?
November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
The Springbok squad for the end of year European tour has been named, as well as the Ireland team for this weekend. It seems Heynecke Meyer is still happy to not select what seem to be obvious choices in the Springbok starting 15 and bench.
I read a post by Mark Keohane where he expressed not so much frustration but sadness at the state of SA rugby when it comes to team selection, especially where players of colour are concerned. Now, please note that this is not a rant about transformation. Yes, that dynamic will always be present in SA rugby as the race issue is so entrenched in our unfortunate history. But please read this post for the merits of the arguments brought forward.
As we’ll all know, Meyer has a strong bias towards Morne Steyn. Granted, when Steyn came into the picture, he was a breath of fresh air to an uncertainty at number 10 where Butch’s form seemed to be waning, and Pienaar was still in that dreadful undecided utility state where coaches didn’t know whether to play him at 9 or 10. Recently though, it’s been quite clear that Steyn’s offering has been lacking. In a country blessed with talents such as Lambie, Jantjies and Goosen, one would think that their drafting into the position couldn’t be at a more perfect time, especially given their form. Personally, I think Elton should have been given the chance ahead of Goosen. As much as Goosen is highly rated by Meyer, I honestly think he should have been 3rd in line behind both Lambie and Jantjies. Steyn should have been given a break in the Championship, some time off to try to rest and regain his form.
My second position is at Centre. To this day, I don’t understand how Juan de Jongh is not even 2nd choice. What more does the man need to do to get into the team? He has an electric streak about him, the kind of guy who can get the backline going, lots of energy and fully committed to the cause. How does Joaco Taute get in line before de Jongh? Baffles the mind, and that’s where I’ll leave it.
Full back is another point of contention. Surely the exploits of a small man known as “Apples” should have received the necessary recognition by now? And his size cannot be made an excuse as he has already proven himself under Peter de Villiers that he can be counted on. I don’t know any other fullback his size who backs himself against the big guys. Gio Aplon, on any day, will die with his boots and jersey on. The sheer amount of commitment he shows on the field is second to none. Kirschner, as stable as he is, doesn’t offer too many options. Aplon, however, has the ability to pull moments like the one Ricky Januarie did when we finally beat the All Black in Dunedin a few years back. And yet, he’s still solid in defence.
I have read a few articles, one on this blogging platform, where people have raised questions about why Heynecke will persist with an off-form player when there’s a more than credible replacement for him. Furthermore, the issue seems to get worse when the replacement player is one of colour e.g. Goosen getting a start before a more experienced Jantjies. Meyer’s Blue-tinted glasses have been well documented and are an open secret even though he will never concede to it (besides saying he’ll initially use the players he’s worked with before). But is it just a coincidence that guys like Siya Kolisi, Lwazi Mvovo, and the abovementioned players of colour have been overlooked when they are playing the rugby of their lives?
Guys like Kolisi should have been played against weaker opposition, or dead rubber matches such as that against England in PE, instead of being chucked into a “training group” like they need to go to a finishing school (that was a lame move by Meyer to try and appease the critics). There are players who are hungry to get into that green of the Boks and play their hearts out. Guys like Heinrich Brussouw (when not injured) should get a run under Meyer. Now is the time to start blooding these promising youngsters, and not stifling them.
If indeed we are serious about the future of Springbok rugby, we will realise that some of Heynecke Meyer’s stubborness isn’t going to do the sport much good. Also, I didn’t like the idea of quotas in the past, but today we are seeing players of colour who,.purely on merit, should be given a proper chance. A lot of these guys are role models in Black and Coloured communities. The more they are allowed to get that platform (again, because they actually deserve it), the more young kids of colour will want to get involved in the sport. In a number of years, we won’t be talking transformation as a political ploy, but as somethinga that has happened naturally on merit because there are players of colour who are performing really well and are actually earning their place in Springbok rugby.