It’s become concerning to me that the number of debutants under Meyer seems to be increasing virtually with every match, yet, we keep on hearing people say he sticks with too many old players.
Factually, I cannot agree too much with the latter sentiment. The only “old” players in terms of age is Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers, whilst, to be honest, there is not too much we can replace them with at this stage. Perhaps too late even if one looks into the preparations for the World Cup next year.
Perhaps the sentiment should rather be that Meyer is sticking with too many players who are not performing well, instead of looking at age but then we can also say that he doesn’t stick long enough with new players before he tries someone else…
Some people have expressed concern that there are too few new players coming through, and that Meyer is not identifying new talent. The former sentiment is totally untrue. Under Heyneke Meyer, as of today, 31 Springboks have made their debut. Between the 31 players, they average 6.8 caps per player since debut, while Eben Etzebeth is the most capped at 25 test caps. If Warren Whitely runs out onto the park on Saturday, he would become debutant number 32.
But somehow when we look at the current squad at the Rugby Championship, which is around 30 players big, we seem unable to recognise those 32 debutants.
That is because several of them have come and gone. Only 9 of those 31 debutants are in Saturday’s squad, while a further 3 players are in the extended squad. So, 12 out of the 31 debutants are still playing . And that is why one would never tell that 31 players have made their debuts under Heyneke Meyer. Twenty players (consider this 3 players short of a full match day squad) have dropped off.
For more and the complete list of players and how New Zealand stack up, visit SportChat.co.za