Is Meyer Developing Talent?

The Boks will be playing there last match of this gruelling season against the team that we started to show decline, England. In the June tests at home the first test was a convincing thrashing of the Roses. The second test Was less convincing but still looked good. In the third test the wheels started coming off and cracks were starting to show in what was looking like a promising start under Meyer.

Ever since then dubious selection like Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha, the constant faith shown in Morné Steyn, Zane Kirchner, Jean de Villiers and Francois Hougaard, and the obvious snubs at players like Lwazi Mvovo, Elton Jantjies, Juan de Jongh and Patrick Lambie have plagued Meyer through the rest of his tenure. The eye of the public was firmly placed on the man and his every move questioned with scepticism.

Yes Meyer has had a tough time, he should have expected no less but he has sorely let the public down. I read an article on Rugby365 yesterday about how Meyer was throwing egg on the public’s face by telling Lambie to play to his strengths. What a load of bollocks. The public have been baying for a more attack orientated game and by asking Lambie to now play his style and not the one asked is nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to public opinion.

Meyer did the same when he finally called in a specialised “fetcher” in the form of Louw because trying to turn Marcell Coetzee into one was not working. Not only couldn’t we win ball on the ground it was obviously also hurting the player as his game overall started taking a knock. Back then there was also calls from the public and media alike to include a fetcher, and look how Louw has responded. Now our forwards look unstoppable.

Wasn’t Hougaard’s move to wing nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to public pressure?

One thing is certain through all this and it is that slowly but surely Meyer seems to be walking in the right direction.

But I still have one point of criticism to make against Meyer and it involves this end of year tour. Meyer, in my opinion hasn’t done enough to bring through the youngsters and has failed to identify key areas of personal that are almost at their sell-by date.

Lets start with the front row. Everyone knows and agrees that Beast, Bismarck and Jannie are the best we have and will be for some time. However what bother me is the backup. On the loosehead side we are pretty much covered with the like of Heinke van der Merwe, Guthro Steenkamp and JC Janse van Rensburg.

At hooker we have Adriaan Strauss, but after him who do we have? Schalk Brits is no spring chicken. Tiaan Liebenberg is also on the wrong side of 20 and Chiliboy is once again a tackle bag specialist. Why have no young hookers been identified and taken on tour?

Same thing with the tighthead side. We have Pat Cilliers who looks like a great replacement yet they picked CJ ahead of him and we suffered for it. Why show no trust in a man who has given you no reason not to. Meyer has obviously identified Frans Malherbe as one for the future yet left him at home instead of gaining some touring experience.

Our Lock reserves are also thin yet we have plenty of young guns coming through who can make a statement like Etsebeth… well probably not as massive a statement but a statement nonetheless. Andries Bekker isn’t that young and prone to injury plus all the other guys picked are in their twilight years.

At loose forward we have a plethora of talent. This country always has yet Meyer seems to be picking favourites over those that actually perform. Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha are cases in point. Jacques hardly played Super Rugby this year yet got picked even when injured and Arno Botha has had a mediocre showing at the Bulls during the Currie Cup so how does he qualify. Even playing in a less “demanding” tournament he looked average. Why did CJ Stander leave when he has produced fine performances? Kolisi was given the cold shoulder and players like Kankowski and Daniel were hardly given chances even though they played the best out of almost everyone.

At scrumhalf we also have a problem. Ruan is the incumbent and has a cool head but he is also approaching his twilight. Hougaard hasn’t measured up but I’m sure he will again soon. But why is someone like Vermaak picked? He hasn’t played rugby to prove he is the second or third best option and he is also no spring chicken. Why not take a younger chap with like Reinach or Groom? This tour exposure would have been vital for their growth and increased our depth at 9.

At flyhalf we have been all sixes and sevens. At least here the young guys have had exposure but none has done enough to say they are the future. I appreciate the fact that Meyer is giving Lambie time but someone like Jantjies should have also benefited, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes per game.

At inside centre we have a problem. Jean de Villiers is near the end of the road and probably only has a year left in him, two at a stretch. Yes Frans Steyn has been identified as his replacement but who is there after Steyn? Why has Meyer not identified a third or even a fourth choice? Why was someone like Whitehead not taken, or Francois Venter or Jan Serfontein? At outside centre why was someone like Paul Jordaan not taken with? Taute can play 13 but is not a great choice.

At wing we have enough young cover but Meyer doesn’t seem t be doing enough to give them exposure. He picks Hougaard at 11 where he says he doesn’t want to be at the expense of players like Mvovo and Rhule who could benefit from game time.

At fullback a lot of soul searching also needs to be done. Yes Kirchner has been solid but neither is he anything to write home about. And if Taute is the future why is he not getting a go at fullback? And why have younger possibilities not been considered as backup? Lambie can play there yes but his future seems to be written in flyhalf stone. Frans Steyn can also play there but likewise he seems to be our first choice 12. So why have no other possibilities been discussed or brought on tour if for nothing else than to learn?

This also brings me to my point on captain. Jean de Villiers has been retaining his starting berth for he is captain. But there does not seem to be a search for an alternative. Who will captain the Boks in Jean’s place? Adriaan Strauss seems a likely candidate but will be second fiddle to Bismarck. Is enough being done to recognise a new leader or are they banking on Jean living forever?

29 thoughts on “Is Meyer Developing Talent?

  1. I can appreciate him not playing fringe players/youngsters in tests but would have liked it if there were some midweek games for the dirt-trackers. This is where you give your youngsters and fringe players a chance.

  2. At the moment there is only 1 captain who deserves his spot in the starting 15 and that is Flo. But it would very difficult for him to captain the boks when he plays & lives in England. I think Taute is soon to be first choice fullback one he starts playing at the Stormers on loan. Mapoe & Jordaan should be considered as backup outside centres to JdJ, with Taute there to cover if we have a rash of injuries. Inside centre is a problem, whitehead should have been in the touring squad to provide a 3rd level of backup. Scrumhalf is also an issue, but hopefully youngsters like Reinach & Groom will get a large amount of super rugby to test them. I still think Franco vd Merwe should have been given some gametime as an alternate “athletic” lock, his work rate is so much better than Krugers, and when he called lineouts for the Lions they looked steady. Cilliers was slapped in the face when HM picked CJ in front of him, but we all learnt our lesson there and I dont see it happening again.

  3. Look guys, we could have groomed the young players if there were mid week games, secondly i think you too harsh on the forwards, i am happy with the forward development, the youngsters still have to proof themselves during the SR series next year. As for the back line, i am not sure about Whitehead, or Paul Jordaan, rather Serfontein, but he still have to play senior rugby. The wing , yes i agree, Hougaard is a no no, but Mvovo is really not good to pick up rolling balls, of which the English and NH countries do use to attack.
    To a certain extend i am not satisfied with the performance of our team and coaching, and do expect a loss against the English tomorrow. Funny, about 99% of the country were happy with Jean as Captain, Flo play his rugby in England, and would be a good choice, but he got to mingle with the guys in SA during the year to be a good captain for us. Heyneke allways said that he will build slowly, and i think he nearly got the forwards what we need. The old hands like CJ etc did not make it, he was hoping for experience.HM was in a tight spot, he had to win at all cost with this tour, which in itself is something to build on specially on the phsycological side. There was not much time (5 days when he took on his first test, to groom the guys) Remember, the AB had continuity when Hendry left, (the remainder of the coaching staff which came 8 years with the team was still there), whilst HM had to start new. I must say he could have done beteer with the choice of his staff, Ricardo Loubser mmmmmmmmmm, Van Graan mmm (but i think it was a deal with the Bulls to get out of his contract ), the rest is ok. I know he had problems, he actually wanted AC as back line coach, but he refused. The front row coach (De Villiers ) was a briliant choice. We must also remember that most of the experienced players lef, just think about the cricial possition of S/H , Jaques Fourie, Bakkies, Danie, Victor, Guthro, and all the injuries etc. well, come to think of it, i think it was actually not on to perform. Our rugby public allways want to win, so wow the presure !!!!!.
    To summarise, i think we can critisise, but we are moving forward, would just like to see some minor changes at the back.

  4. We can debate about players to be in the squad, but, i can tell you we will allways differ, you guys want more Province and Sharks in the Squad, while we up north want others. Arno Botha did play exelent for the Bulls this year, and lett me tell you, Jaques Potgieter is for sure in the run, he plays like Schalk, Hm wanted someone like Schalk, and i can see the reasoning behind that move. Jaques will mature for sure, i saw him week after week at Loftus, he can play.
    Sorry for the typo’s

    • Typo’s excused. Yes people will differ but can you truthfully say that someone like Arno Botha and Jacques Potgieter had better games than Kolisi, Daniel and Kanko. Hell would have loved to see CJ Stander there and he is from your side of the world. And talking about up and coming loosies then how about Jaco Kriel from the Lions? He played bloody well in the games he played for the Lions plus he is quick. In contrast Arno And Jacques haven’t looked the part yet they get picked. And at 12 you should have seen that along with Whitehead I did offer up to Bulls names in Venter and Serfontein. So you can’t blame me for provincialism. All I, and I am sure most of SA, require is that form at least comes into the equation and not just an opinion on how good they probably can be if used. Whats the point of playing if you are the best player in the country in your position only to see it go to someone else because the coach believes that that person MIGHT become world class.

  5. There will always be a situation where somebody gets a proper chance, somebody a little chance (maybe not big enough) and some don’t get a chance at all – in the end, you can’t make all Super Rugby players Springboks. The only rational logic I see, why all these players that “should” be groomed as back-up and maybe future 1st choices at the moment is that first HM must build the basic structure – ie. the foundation must be in place first to which he can then start building on.

    You can’t do everything at once, and since the start until today we can say that the forwards is starting to function well as a unit…which it certainly didn’t in June as yet. So next year I’m 100% sure that the back-ups for the first choice 1-8 will be players for the future. Next year I also see the focus shifting more towards improving the attack, as a team focus – meaning the whole 15, not just the back-line. Then it also allows updating the core of 9-15 and start grooming the future there..

    All I’m saying is that HM has started to build the core of the team from scratch and to do that successfully I think he has taken the right path – step by step usually works better than trying to change everything at once.

    • He could still have his core and bring in the fringe young players but he hasn’t. Plus he seems to contradict himself often enough. Taute’s future is at fullback only to play him at 13 didn’t make sense to me at all. If he deemed him good enough to start at 13 then why hasn’t he deemed him good enough for a showing at 15? It doesn’t make sense and that is what I find irritating. I do believe HM is very very slowly moving in the right direction but most of his choices that seem right only happen after huge pressure from the public and media on his selections. When everyone saw Coetzee suffering as a 6 they were begging for Meyer to find a fetcher because we were not winning ball on the ground. Finally Flo got called. Everyone was shouting for Morné to be dropped and finally it happened. Same with Hougaard at 9 and same with Taute at 13. Everything seems to be an after the fact response rather than an actual coaching decision. I hope next year proves better because he has left a lot of fans rather pessimistic about his abilities.

  6. One tend to forget how many new Boks and youngsters have already got a chance this year albeit due to injuries and retirement of established players.

    794 Tiaan Liebenberg 25 August 2012
    824 Coenie Oosthuizen 9 June 2012
    831 Marcell Coetzee 9 June 2012
    832 Juandré Kruger 9 June 2012
    833 Eben Etzebeth 9 June 2012
    834 Jacques Potgieter 23 June 2012
    835 Patric Cilliers 18 August 2012
    836 JJ Engelbrecht 18 August 2012
    839 Johan Goosen 8 September 2012
    840 Duane Vermeulen 8 September 2012
    841 Jaco Taute 29 September 2012
    819 Elton Jantjies 29 September 2012

  7. Groom just started playing in cc and even there was a rotation policy so he has to make that position his before we thrust him in there and our SR coaches are a bit confused as to who is their best inside centre. Sharks-Frans S(Tim)
    Stormers-JDV(plays o/c for boks)
    Bulls-Olivier but not good enough(Venter,not playing enough hard games but I rate him highly)
    Lions-A Hollenbach,i don’t think he is boks material
    Kings-Strauss, he is also not good enough
    Chilli is 3rd choice but recently returned from injury and I see Flo or Kanko as our C for next year

  8. That’s tho whole point, changes happen step-by-step, and usually in any organizational change project whether it is sports, society or business – slowly, one thing at the time does pretty much always work better than changing all at once.

    I do agree on Taute at 15, I would also like to see Rhule at wing and Mapoe at 13. I certainly agree that not in form players shouldn’t Morne at 10 when he clearly needed a proper rest more than anything else.

    But I do understand the logic of not trying to change everything. The back-line started pretty much like this in June: 9 FH, 10 MS, 11 BH, 12FS, 13 JdV, 14 JPP, 15 ZK. Out of the wings one or the other have been injured pretty much ever since, we have both new half backs, JdV moved as 12 so there has been lots of changes already forced by injury and bad form. So if there’s already 5 changes (new players or positional) out of 7, I can see a logic for example to stick to ZK to keep some sort of continuity, even if I also like JT there better. Thou for me Lambi would be the first choice at 15 anyways because Goosen will make FH position his own without a doubt anyway and Lambi is too talented to be just a back-up player.

    I don’t disagree with you on principal and I definitely don’t disagree on the goal which the team should work towards – I do however see the logic why changes happen at this pace and not quicker. And whether the changes happen after the public or media outcry is totally besides the point, just as long as things moves to the right direction.

  9. Kanko is coming back from Japan and I think is in the better position @8 to make better dc’s and the way he goes about his business in the field,he is aggressive yet stylish runner with the ball and good with line-outs.Bissie is too rush and i don’t can lead from the front in a disciplined manner,he will lead Eben astray with out of line brutality

  10. Hi Markusaurilius

    Jake Whites 2007 World Cup side played with at least 7 players who were coached by HM since a very young age. He was busy with the same thing at the Bulls when he was called up to the Boks.

    You can accuse him of many things, but it is just vindictive to accuse him of not developing players. Development takes time. Talk again in a few years time. Well be on top of the world again.


  11. Thanks Hennie,

    I think in the end, everybody supports the boks, are very passionate and agree on the bigger picture of direction the team should take. It is the “how to get there” that is the debate…and obviously most of the opinions are well motivated. I’d just like to see more support and focus on positives… more productive in the long run, thou constructive criticism has definately it’s place as well.

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