Well it has been one of those weeks for me. One you want to forget and never ever remember again. Our family lost a dear friend this week past and it hit us quite hard. So because of this I have been loathe to write anything about the Boks loss to New Zealand. However now that the grieving process is over I feel I shall return to my comments on the game I love.
What I cannot and probably will never understand is how, with a dominant pack, we still lost. It’s easy to point at certain players and say they had shockers. It’s the simplest way to point out problems. But is it sorting out the overall problem that is obvious throughout the team? No.
Zane Kirchner has proved now that when it comes to attacking rugby he has no clue as to what to do with the ball. I have played the game and one thing I could never really understand from our provincial players is how they cannot pass the ball into the arms of the person next to them. You don’t have to be particularly skilful to achieve this seemingly easy feat. Zane proved me wrong. Apparently you have to be the most skilful rugby player ever to find a flying Bryan Habana. Or maybe it is Habana’s fault for being just too quick for Zane’s slow brain. It is ridiculous in the professional era to not be able to complete the most basic of rugby tasks, the pass! It’s plain criminal actually!
Ruan Pienaar had a shocker. He looked pedantic and useless. It was like his body was moving to fast for his brain. He was always four or five moves behind in his head. This in turn didn’t help Morné find the form he so desires.
Speaking of Morné, the man should be posted back to Currie Cup duty so that he can work on his game. You cannot and should not expect him to find his form in a green-and-gold jersey. It is a slap in the face to the players who actually do have form. Being a Springbok doesn’t require coaching back into form, it means you should already have the form to call yourself a Springbok. I know Meyer likes to point at Habana but the obvious truth is that Habana was already busy rediscovering his form at the Stormers, so when he played his first game against England he was back to his brilliant best. If you follow Meyer’s logic and believe in the fact that he coached Bryan better then why did it take him less than one game to prove his credentials and it is taking Morné 7 or 8 and still not rediscovering his radar?
If Meyer wants to coach players to become better players then he should go back to coaching at a provincial level. The job of the senior coach is to take the talented and in form players and make them gel. Use their skills as they are because it is with those skills that they impressed you in the first place.
That is what is scaring me about Goosen. We all know he can play and that he has the potential to become the world’s best flyhalf, but what will happen to him under Meyer? Meyer has made no bones about his kicking plan. It is the game he will force on players even if it means his death. Won’t that game pattern stifle Goosen’s natural ability? Goosen is the kind of player who can do anything, kick, run, pass and step, but what if Meyer only ever forces him to kick (which is likely) and the rest of his game turns south? It happened to Morné. He was known as an attacking flyhalf at the Bulls, someone who could run and take on the defensive line. Not any more. Under Meyer’s guidance before he left, that part of Morné’s game has been in steady decline and carried on declining even after Meyer’s departure because the Bulls don’t coach any other way but Meyer’s way. It is now at the point where it is useless to use his attacking skills for there are none.
To give you an idea of how things change in today’s game then let’s have a look at the current table propping Bulls team. They have a kicking flyhalf and recently lost to Griquas. Griquas have bought a Bulls throw away in Francois Brummer. His game at the Bulls was below par. He was made into a kicking flyhalf and it obviously didn’t work for him. At Griquas he is blooming into a very capable flyhalf who can not only kick but attack as well.
Look at all the talent the Bulls have bought over the years, and even with that talent they can not play winning rugby this year. They bought players with huge promise in Sadie, Venter, Engelbrecht, Visser and a few others. Yet those players are not living up to that promise. The things that made them great, their vision and adventurous spirit are being stifled by a kick-and-chase approach.
Hougaard is a player that thrives on ball. He can make things happen. He wasn’t given the opportunities to showcase his talent because he had to play against his natural abilities, not use them. As soon as you turn anyone against their nature how can you expect them to thrive? What you have effectively done is make the person in question fight against himself before worrying about fighting against the opposition. He will be more worried about implementing the game plan than playing the situation.
I know Meyer said the team only needs a few tweaks. He is right, but I bet you he will tweak the wrong things because he will not tweak the cause of the problems, namely the game plan.
And from what I have read between the lines regarding Morné and Zane, he won’t drop the second cause of our problems either.