Well Meyer has picked his squad. A lot of people are happy with most of the picks, but a lot of people are also unhappy with some of the picks. It’s not surprising considering that Meyer has seemed to fall back on perceived favourites instead of some good young blood putting their hands up. Meyer seems hell bent on a philosophy of experience, even at the expense of form. That is the problem I mostly have with Meyer’s player selection and I am sure is why a lot of people are not entirely happy with the National coach.
Meyer has fallen back on stalwarts to help carry him to glory. Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Guthro Steenkamp, Morné Steyn, Zane Kirchner and even old Victor Matfield. But what really irks me is that he still has the audacity to then proclaim that he has picked a team on merit. Let us go through these “merit” selections shall we?
Let us start with my most disliked selection, that of Zane Kirchner. This man has never offered anything influential in a Bok jersey. He has been dependable at best but has never been able to offer anything creative in his life. His play is largely (actually solely) based on kick now and never ask any other questions… just kick now… aimlessly. Majority of Bok supporters have never backed this man and rightly so. Yet Meyer persists. It’s almost like Pierre Spies all over again. So many young promising players are being held back because Meyer would rather pick a never was. Players like SP Marais, Lwazi Mvovo, Jaco Taute, Gio Aplon and even Jurgen Visser don’t get the chance to grow and mature for the Boks because even though they are playing form rugby (maybe not so much Taute who blows hot and cold and obviously Aplon who is injured) they will never get picked because Meyer doesn’t take a chance on them. This stunts there development in my point of few. This is how promising and exciting rugby players with huge potential end up becoming average players. The wind gets knocked out of their sails by a lack of faith in them.
There is no doubting the player that is Fourie du Preez. He showed his class last year when he came back. However when Ruan Pienaar gets picked when he has never really delivered on his promise for years now, it makes me very sad for up-and-comers. Someone like Cobus Reinach who has had a stellar season is constantly being overlooked even though he has been by far the best South African scrumhalf in the Super XV and one of the form scrumhalves out of all the teams. Reinach kicks are accurate, his passes sharp and fast and he has the ability to keep a defence guessing. Oh and he has pace. Why can’t he be an understudy to someone like Fourie instead of always picking the ever disappointing Ruan Pienaar or Francois Hougaard, or even Nic Groom or Piet van Zyl? It baffles me
Meyer I think sometimes lies to protect his own skin. He sounds a bit like Sanral sometimes. He says he has picked players on form but that is absolute bull, excuse the pun. Players, like Morné Steyn, Zane Kirchner and Guthro Steenkamp have not been playing great rugby overseas, and in the case of Morné not even good rugby. So why pick them? Experience? Please… just because the have experience doesn’t mean that they will always play great rugby. Instead of bringing Morné back he should have moved on to younger flyhalves. Yes he has picked Goosen, but another player like Kurt Coleman could have gained some much needed experience as an understudy to Francois Steyn and Goosen. What really irks me about the Morné Steyn selection is that come Rugby Championship you can almost bet your house on the fact that he will be first choice… even if he is playing crap rugby.
On the subject of Victor Matfield I am a bit split. A few months ago I would have said yip, especially after losing Peter-Steph du Toit. With the emergence of great 5 jumpers now I am not so sure we need Matfield any more. Stephen Lewies, Franco Mostert and the underrated Ruan Botha have all been playing some stellar rugby of late. There organizational skills might not be up there with Matfield’s yet but it isn’t usseless either. Imagine how they could grow if thrown into some international rugby. When you have young 20 something coming on to the scene who could take you to 2, maybe 3 world cups, why bank on a 37 year old who has to be wrapped in cotton just to make sure he lasts?
Now to go to a player who doesn’t deserve his time there yet was chosen because he “knows” Matfield. Callie Visagie has been picked for the Bok squad, and it definitely wasn’t on form. Meyer’s explanation… he knows Matfield. Just because he happens to chuck balls at Matfield during matches doesn’t make him a player good enough to be picked on form. Kyle Copper in the few minutes he gets every game has shown a lot more skill, tenacity, determination and class to be picked on form alone! Plus he is understudy to Bismarck!!! Arguably the world’s best hooker! So why pick Callie? If Meyer picks him because “he knows Matfield” then on that premise alone every forward in the Bulls pack should have been picked… including the reserves.
Meyer has picked some young blood in Serfontein, Engelbrecht, Schreuder (though I don’t know why) and a few others. Engelbrecht looked promising but it seems that when a game gets tightish he disappears. He has also not seemed anywhere near his best this year. Meyer has also managed to include S’bura Sithole and Juan de Jongh (his selection surprised me because Meyer is such a fan of “big” guys) so not all is completely lost when it comes to youthful choices. However the chances of the “young” brigade ever getting a chance and some much needed exposure all hinges on the fact that the oldies get injured and Meyer has no choice but to pick them.
Good luck to the Boks though. Seems we’ll need it because I don’t see these “old” men beating the All Blacks.