With injuries having played a massive role this year one can excuse a watered down Bok team… or can we? One thing that has been obvious during the Currie Cup is the emergence of young players. Yes it was a watered down version because a lot of the Boks were missing but in the final the Sharks were almost full strength and the “young guns” from WP pulled them through.
We have a plethora of young talent coming through and someone like Eben Etzebeth has proved that by announcing himself on the world stage even. Meyer has chosen his squad to tour Europe but I can’t but help feel he has missed a trick. He has still stuck to his “guns” as he likes to point out. I do applaud the man however for picking Rhule. The kid has been in sublime form for the Cheetahs. Yet overall I feel Meyer is still lacking in vision.
Where is Ludik, Groom, Reinach, Jordaan, Whitehead and the likes? These guys have proved themselves this season. We have had a terrible time at scrumhalf. Pienaar offers stability but after him who do we have? Yes we have Hougaard and Vermaak but they have no form to speak of. Yet Groom and Reinach have proved that they can play an all round game. Plus Reinach has clearly inherited his dad’s pace! Hougaard’s future is not at scrumhalf and will never be. If anything he will always be an impact player or wing. On this tour one could have picked both Groom and Reinach to gain some experience. So why didn’t he? Simple, he still plays favourites.
At centre we have been thin this year. Jean is holding the ship together, not just in the midfield but also as captain, Frans Steyn is injured and we seem to be short on genuine inside centres. So then Why not take Someone like Whitehead or Serfontein with? They are definitely the future! Ever since the departure of Fourie we have also been lacking for a 13. Juan de Jongh has shown he has the temperament but unfortunately his size under Meyer will always count against him. Unfortunate really since he showed South Africa what he can produce on the big stage. Frans and Jean are not the answer as a centre pairing. So why not give Juan his chance and bring someone like Jordaan on tour who can only benefit from it. Why not even take someone like Catrakilis along?
At full back Ludik has been in sublime form. The kind of form that would make anyone stand up and notice… unless you are Meyer. Meyer’s blind faith in Captain Niknaks is bordering on insanity. He offers nothing from the back. Yes he is solid but his one on one defence has never been great and he has no attacking skills to speak of. His only claim to fame is kicking, which Meyer seems to prize above all else. I would play Taute there and Ludik as backup… plus if you really have to you have Lambie. Zane doesn’t even need to feature… at all… ever!
I also feel Meyer missed a trick With Deon Fourie. Our only fetcher in the group is Francois Louw, and no matter how much Meyer wishes it, Coetzee will never be in that mould. Why not then pick someone like Fourie who has been a revelation at 6? I can only think size once again… which is sad really. And what about someone like Anton Bressler or even Jaco Kriel from the Lions? Don’t get me started on the Keegan Daniel debate. The man would be a shoe-in anywhere else.
The other trick that Meyer has missed is in his player “32”. In the group we have one genuinely world class tighthead in Jannie. Pat Cilliers is still on probation. Why not pick another tighthead in the group instead of Heinke van der Merwe, another loosehead. We basically have have three looseheads, one tighthead and one all rounder in Pat Cilliers. CJ doesn’t count because he can’t scrum on his best of days!
However the biggest trick Meyer has missed is in the naming of his match day 23, and here is the team to take on the Irish:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
16 Schalk Brits, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Zane at 15 should not even feature in the team or bench. Taute isn’t a 13, his defence is shoddy there. Francois Hougaard has not done enough to warrant a starting berth at wing, his form is shoddy. Having CJ on the bench and not Guthro makes no sense and never ever will no matter which universe you find yourself in. Having Morné Steyn on the bench can only mean one thing… Lambie will get substituted… very soon in the game. I confess I would be very surprised if we beat the Irish with this team, especially is Lambie gets taken off.
A better combination would have been as follows:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Eben Etzebeth, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.
16 Schalk Brits, 17 Guthro Steenkamp, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Juandré Kruger, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Francois Hougaard
I only pick Vermaak for lack of a better choice. There is so much potential that Meyer left at home its actually scandalous. I read that he bemoans the fact that we lose so much talent overseas but it is easy to spot why. If someone keeps on picking the talentless above the talented, then don’t expect the talented to stick around.