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.