What is Meyer thinking?

One thing has become very clear in Heyneke Meyer’s messages these last few days. His emphasis on kicking. It is sad really when one can see the potential in almost all of the players present. South African rugby fans are making a lot of noise on general team selection and it generally tends to be the same. Play the players who have that something extra in them.

Yet Meyer is ignoring these calls. He is steadfastly sticking to what he perceives he knows. I use the words perceive in this case because Meyer has done his fair bit of backtracking on stances he has taken. To highlight the most obvious one is the case of flyhalf. The country has been talking about Lambie and Jantjies a lot, and not just the last few games but for a while. Yet Meyer seems to stand fast on denying there talent. One thing I knew to be bull when he talked about it was Lambie’s perceived lack of tactical kicking. The kid has always been brilliant at it yet Meyer has come out and said that Lambie needs to work on his. What rubbish!

The kid probably has the biggest rugby brain and cool head in the entire squad. His tactical kicking has always been good, his defence has always been rock solid and his attacking acumen is probably one of the best in the country. Elton has shown the glimpses of brilliance we know he has. Has he been as steady as Pat? No but he hasn’t been up and down like a yo-yo either. Yes he had a shocker in the semis to a degree but he didn’t play that badly either. Yet Jantjies hasn’t even made the bench.

Morné Steyn has had one of those seasons that any normal person would want to forget… and quickly. He hasn’t been his metronomic best this whole season. Yet he makes the bench based on one good game for the Bulls to make the semis of the Currie Cup, yet has another shocker against the Sharks a week later. Other than his boot he offers nothing yet he gets the nod because Meyer perceives him to be a better tactical kicker. Well someone should tell Meyer that Steyn’s kicking has been so bad this season that he even made Peter Grant’s kicking out of hand look sublime.

Meyer harps on about tactical kicking and kicking to posts yet not once has he said anything about a complete game, something Lambie and Jantjies can offer. Steyn only offers kicking. Which in a way scares me when you think about what Meyer might be thinking about, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has. Meyer has made no secret about the fact that he doesn’t rate Lambie. He has put his favourite player on the bench in Morné. Does that mean Lambie will be subbed after 20 minutes? Hmm. Also by picking Morné, who has had a shocking season, above someone like Jantjies, who has had a good season, are you not psychologically telling Jantjies that you don’t rate him either?

Now on to Zane Kirchner. Captain Niknaks has been solid but other than his placement and kicking out of hand he has offered about as much as a church mouse to the church coffers. Zane’s kicking, Meyer explains, is what gives him the nod above someone like Taute. Taute can hoof a ball miles, yet he can also run and is an extremely strong tackler. Zane doesn’t offer those last two at all. When Captain Niknaks starts dancing on the spot like a jack rabbit… wait I shouldn’t liken him to the jack rabbit because the jack rabbit can actually side step. When Captain Niknaks prances on the spot like a jack-in-the-box he becomes the easiest target to tackle.

Taking Taute to 15 and bringing on Juan at 13 would have made perfect sense. You have a kid who knows the defensive lines of outside centre patrolling outside centre. Plus you bring on someone who is tenacious in his defence and someone who in the blink of an eye can actually do what a jack rabbit does, evade would be predators!

Almost the entire country bar the truly fanatical Bull supporter can see that removing Zane and Morné from the equation greatly improves our chances against the Irish, so why can’t Meyer? All I know is that if we do lose this game on the Emerald Isle, Meyer will have a lot of explaining to do, not to the South African fans only, but to a certain Mr Gwede Mantashe too.

32 comments on this post.
  1. Leeubok:

    Good post, I like

  2. Hennie:

    And Habana was off for two solid years??????????????

  3. Hennie:

    DO U REALLY THINK RUNNING “FLAIR” RUGBY IN IRELAND IN THE WET ???

  4. markusaurilius:

    Thanks

  5. markusaurilius:

    Who said anything about running rugby? I’m talking about someone who can actually kick tactically as well as run. Morné’s kicking has been about as good as Dennis the Menace. So he offers nothing

  6. markusaurilius:

    And we all cried that Habana should be dropped… just like Morné should be dropped. He will never find form and picking him above the people who do is scandalous! Habana should never have been picked then too! Just because Morné wears a baby blue jumper does not give him the right to be a Bok!

  7. Hennie:

    Habana did !!!!!!!!!!

  8. Hennie:

    get over your anti bull stuff !!!!

  9. Hennie:

    and get real!!

  10. markusaurilius:

    Hahahahah… always has to be one

  11. Hennie:

    I was a known fact that Lambie was poor in tactical kicking, only lately did he piced it up.

  12. Wozza:

    We all know that for the next world cup the fly half needs to chosen from Goosen/Lambie/Janjties. The risk with Goosen is obvious, he has been injured more than he has played so far in his professional career. The risk with Janjties is he can have a bad game, but for his whole professional career he has played in a Lions squad constantly under pressure, lets see what happens with the Stormers loan. Lambie is the solid option, cool head, he may not be able to attack the gain line as hard Jantjies and Goosen, but he manages the backline much better than either of them, and his decision making is better too. Morne Steyn offers you the boot, but he seems to have lost that, im sure he will get it back, but being dragged along the EOYT with the Boks is not going to do that.
    As for Hennies comment: “DO U REALLY THINK RUNNING “FLAIR” RUGBY IN IRELAND IN THE WET ???”
    Harlequins have been very succesful keeping ball in hand, and playing high tempo rugby. It may not have all the flair of Souther Hemisphere rugby, but it’s not far off and it’s won them the Premiership and a lot of their players International call ups.

  13. Andrew:

    Its true though buds… you come across as a Bull hater when all you do is complain about the bull players… bet you dont even lilke Houghie!!

    What about looking further into the team?? JDV is rubbish… he never breaks the line and knocks on more than Spies! Lambie could have won the CC if he didnt knock on in the last move of the day… something that Carter or Wilkinson prob would have done… see, everyone can find fault in every player if you look deep enough.

    Why dont you just for once get behind the Boks and then critisise once HM has finished his tenure as coach (with all the trophies) – BOKKE

  14. Edward:

    I feel compelled to post a comment, not because I think your article has merit, but because it’s so fatally flawed.
    Do you honestly expect your “views”, for want of a better word, can be taken seriously when your entire post is littered with cheap snipes and bitchy name-calling? Are you still a teenager or an adult?
    If Meyer truly didn’t rate Lambie, why pick him on the bench for all those games? Meyer always clearly stated that he thought Goosen was the future at flyhalf. But, Goosen was injured during Steyn’s poor run of form. Meyer allowed Steyn a few games to turn his form around, and some will argue that it was a few games too many, but he was also trying to manage Goosen’s integration into the team, and starting a debutant flyhalf in successive away matches in Aus and NZ would have been dangerous. Or did you not think of that?
    With regards to Taute, don’t you think that moving him to 15 and bringing in JDJ would constitute another 2 changes to the already disrupted backline? Pietersen has come back and Habana is out, Lambie is in. Keeping Zane at 15 makes sense, and given that we will be playing in heavy, wet Irish conditions I fail to see how the logic of this selection evades you.

    Building a TEAM is more than just picking the latest “flavour of the month” players, or the form players in the Currie Cup. It’s about combinations and continuity, and about maintaining harmony within the camp. If you don’t agree with Meyer’s choices, fine. Resorting to insulting him for it is pathetic, and only makes you look like an idiot.

  15. markusaurilius:

    Ok so what you are saying is that goosen should not have started the away tests because we would have lost so that made sense in keeping Morné? Didn’t we even lose with the more experienced player? I agree with Naas, if you are good enough you are old enough! And even if Goosen was injured during Steyn bad run we still had Lambie and Jantjies who were playing the better rugby. You cannot tell me that Meyer rates Lambie but gave him so little game time even with Morné costing us games. With regards to Taute and de Jongh bringing them in would give us a much better balance in the team for defence and attack. Taute is vulnerable at 13 because he doesn’t know the defensive lines, de Jongh does. Moving Taute to 15 makes sense. He CAN kick out of hand, he can defende and probably more importantly offers an option on attack when needed. Captain Niknaks doesn’t. And as for the weather thing. Why are we the only country playing the game who talks about horses for courses. NZ, Aus, Eng, Wales, Irish… they all play a team that basically stays the same bar injury. And Meyer’s horses for courses nonsense is backfiring… his 44% win ratio proves it

  16. markusaurilius:

    I don’t see Meyer winning trophies… I wish he would and come this weekend I will back the bokke. As for hating Bulls players? No… i hate Meyer’s obvious provincialism. I rate Hougie (even though his form is wonky) and I have swallowed my words about Flip. But picking someone like Jacques Potgieter, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Morné Steyn and to a lesser degree Zane smacks of hippocracy. Potgieter and Botha haven’t ever played brilliant games this season yet they get picked above the likes of Keegan Daniel, Siya Kolisi, Warren Whitely and Josh Strauss to name a few (or even Deon Fourie as a fetcher). Jano Vermaak gets picked even though he has played no rugby above guys like Charl McLeod who has had a pretty good season. Before this tour guys like Cobus Reinach and Nic Groom were the form scrummies. They are young enough that you could have taken one of them as an understudy to Pienaar and Hougie. I agree de Villiers has had a crap season but his game has improved at 12 plus we need a captain. Yet Meyer hasn’t picked a backup inside centre?! That makes no sense. Why not pick a guy like Whitehead or even Jan Serfontein to take on tour to learn. Meyer seems to be short sighted in certain areas, and it will probably cost us.

  17. Cash:

    Its also short sighted talking about Serfontein now when Venter is ahead of him at the Bulls he too should serve his dues in domestic rugga. I can’t wait to see where is the under/20 lock going to fit in at the Sharks next season

  18. Hennie:

    We can argue till next year, you seem to be too anti Meyer/Bulls. Meyer is really not favouring the Bulls, he is busy to build a team, and phasing younger guys into the team.You seem to miss the fact that he actually spotted Marcell Coetzee, and he is also right about Arno Botha . Arno played briliantly this year, watch this space ! As for backline spots, JdJ ,Mvovo etc will get their run.They part of the squad and the team. A team these dyas consist of 23 players not only the 15 starting.I told you earlier, you too blind folded to see the bigger picture, building teams takes more then one season.

  19. APO:

    I think HM was astute when he decided on centres based on horses for courses: Keith Earls has huge pace but there are concerns about his defence. He can orchestrate tries.He is comfortable on dry fields days but in winter conditions “against direct and physically powerful opponents” he is suspect.
    D’Arcy is a highly effective broken field runner but needs “a bit more space. He is not as effective at linking with team-mates as the man he replaces”.
    I still would have gone with JdJ an put Taute on the bench, to replace Zane at halftime. Meyer is being overly defensive so “he” can’t lose the match.

  20. markusaurilius:

    I can see Meyer being ultra defensive but so far it hasn’t helped the Boks. His win ratio proves it. He has to start concentrating on an all-round game. But then again one can say that because Morné was the flyhalf we couldn’t play an all-round game. Keith Earls might be suspect to direct approaches but he will make more tackles than miss. Plus he will exploit Taute’s defensive “short-comings” as a 13. Hopefully Lambie can produce the “all-round” approach we seek but what bothers me is Morné on the bench. If we go behind he will replace Lambie with is “safer” option… will it be effective? i doubt it. Morné is not the guy you want when you need to play catch-up rugby

  21. Hennie:

    Taute only had one bad run on defence, dont make it a rule as if he is bad at defence, its all about communication, we all know that.I still believe JdJ will have his run in the second half and Taute will move to FB, Hougie to scrum half and Mvovo in at wing. It gives HM so much options the way he selected his team. We might have to revert back to safe rugby, dont know, anything can happen. My believe is that our forwards will do it for us, while we busy to develop the right back line combination. The forwards are awsome, Hm got it righ here, and i think thats where you start to build, first get your base right up fron. cant you see it ?? My word !!

  22. Met uysh:

    I somewhat agree with Morne on the bench. He is a “safe” option to have. On Zane, even Shimange last night on Boots said he shouldn’t even be in the match 23…

  23. Met uysh:

    On Habana, I disagree with Hennie and you. Habana had a few off games, but he was mostly still on good form overall. In 2010, no Springbok knew what he was doing, no one deserved their spots except Juan Smith. In 2011 Habana still played good rugby for the Stormers and the Springboks. This year, he returned to top form. Its a real pity he got injured again.

  24. Met uysh:

    On Jantjies. He hasn’t performed well enough at Super Rugby level or Currie Cup level for that matter to warrant inclusion yet. Morne has almost 40 tests behind his name, and if you were to take a gamble on who would slot the most kicks out of 10, my money would still be on Morne rather than Jantjies. And unfortunately, WP showed Ireland, England and the Scots exactly how to eliminate Jantjies’ impact on the game.

  25. markusaurilius:

    i just don’t see how Morné can help us chase a game if it comes to it. His kicks might get us down field but he blunts our attacks. And if it comes to the point where a try is needed to win it I don’t see Morné helping at all

  26. Edward:

    Firstly, I did not say that starting Goosen would have resulted in us losing – read my comment again. He was returning form injury and had very little game-time. He had no caps. Starting him in successive away tests in Aus and NZ could potentially have damaged his confidence and resulted in further injury, hence HM’s managed approach to integrating Goosen into the team. It’s not rocket science mate.

    Secondly, you pick Meyer’s selections apart yet fail to even once mention CONTINUITY. Why? Do you not think that there is some merit in maintaining some continuity in the team, especially the backline given the number of changes? This is why Zane is starting and Taute is at 13. I thought I made this point already. Re-read my post.

    How do you know that Taute doesn’t know the defensive lines while JDJ does? Are you at the closed practice sessions? Are you in the team discussions or privy to the discussions about team selection? If so, why not enlighten us rather than hurl barbed insults making HM out to be an idiot while you have all the answers.

    Why are you so obsessed with Meyer’s win ratio? We’ve not even played 10 tests, so it has very little meaning at this point. After 20 tests, different story.

    Your spiteful, passive-aggressive tone is childish. There are better forums to discuss rugby than this. I’m gone.

  27. markusaurilius:

    bye then

  28. Hennie:

    Edward,
    Well said,its easy to criticize from the outside, but you are totally right, surely Hm and the coaching staff know what their plans are. I said it before, i can see the future plan, its all about building and testing possitions but on a conservative way.

  29. Cash:

    We agree on testing combo’s but not at the expense of better players in those respective positions,remember at 1st it was Lambie not playing FH enough before his selection.How many games did Jaco play at O/C? Jaco’s is the best FB in RSA he shouldn’t play centre period

  30. Randy:

    He did not cost us games single handidly… as does the liefling of loftus. Steyn is a feared opponent… when on song… if not he is a blind man with a shotgun… just a huge risk. I dont believe Zane has done something wrong… however Taute is the future and should be blooded soon.

  31. GEN DE LA REY:

    @ANDREW just a side note Pat Lambie did not knock the ball in the last move of the day it was Kyle Cooper the replacement hooker.

    Agree JdV is not on top form. But there is no other 12 in the squad. Whitehead prob the next best fit 12 could have gone on tour but we had to take 3 FH to accommodate Steyn and 3 SH to accommodate Hougie and Vermaak.

    I hope HM can win lots of trophies but he will need to up his selection and coaching standards.

  32. Dean:

    I agree that certain players should not be in this squad. They have been inconsistent or consistently bad. I would swop Hougie for Mvovo, because I don’t think wing is his best position. De Jongh certainly deserves a run, but Kirchner has failed to impress me, despite getting a try. As a Sharks fan, I may be bais, but I think Ludick deserves a call-up to play fullback instead of Kirch. But in addition to this is the conservative kick-chase game plan that is not conducive to try scoring or expression of skills. I think it is important that an NZ/Sharks mentality is adopted where we have players getting over the advantage line, running into space, offloading in a tackle, kicking smarter and winning the break-down.. but mostly getting front-foot ball for players like Lambie and Jantjies to shine. If we are too defensive, even good players will play badly and have fans baying for their heads.

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