The Springboks won Heyneke Meyer his third game in four starts, with the other being the draw in the dead rubber third test against England. A positive start for a new coach, who is heading into the tougher part of the Rugby Championship still unbeaten.
Now I know that a few wins against England and then a scrappy performance against Argentina is nothing to write home about, but I think Heyneke Meyer is doing a pretty good job, and calls of making the Springbok jersey cheap, as well as having blue-tinted shades are unsubstantiated.
For all his Bulls bias, he selected a Springbok forward pack without a Bulls player in it, this for the first time in ten years. He could easily have shifted Willem Alberts to eight to make way for Jacques Potgieter to start, but he stuck to his guns and rewarded the form player, who has already played for the Boks, in Keegan Daniel.
In fact, his selections last week made me realise, thanks to an insightful chat with Rob, that Heyneke Meyer is doing everything BUT make the Springbok jersey cheap. Until last week’s positional switch of Bryan Habana to the other wing, Meyer has not once shifted a player into another position, something Bok coaches of the past did regularly.
Here’s an example, when Frans Steyn missed the third English test, he did not put Jean de Villiers in the 12 jersey and shuffle the backline along, he simply replaced the player with another, albeit Wynand Olivier played. But in this case, which centre in South Africa deserved to be at 12? And he played a Springbok, in the process not giving away another Springbok cap.
As for the Bulls bias he supposedly has, I think we can all agree that his teams reflect for the most part, the players best suited to their positions. Where his outlook differs slightly from other coaches, is that he puts the trust in the player to find form again, and not to simply drop a player for another player based purely on form.
Jacques Potgieter, since pulling on the Bok jersey for the first time, has done nothing to warrant him being dropped for the in-form Siya Kolisi. Yes, Kolisi is playing brilliant rugby, and is unlucky to have to compete with Marcel Coetzee, but a player worthy of the Bok jersey will go back to his union, play the rugby we all know he can play, and wait for his chance. The point here is that the coach believes in coaching a player into the right form, and not depending on the union’s coaches to get them into form by dropping them.
You won’t see Steve Hansen drop Dan Carter because Aaron Cruden is in the form of his life, so why should any of the current Springboks be dropped, after playing winning rugby and not doing anything substantially wrong? This argument is valid even if you look at Zane Kirchner. For those that know me, I am not a Zane fan, but his selection in the team is justified, if one understands the coach’s thinking.
The player played one game against England, where he was solid until he got injured. He is now fit again, so he deserves to be in the fullback jersey until such time that he no longer plays at the required standard. No other fullback in country can really put their hand up and say that he deserves the 15 jersey more, not even Pat Lambie, who has not been the same player since his injury.
So next time, before cursing Meyer for another cheap selection, or Bulls biased call, think about the bigger picture. For once, the Boks have a coach worthy of his position. Rugby is about more than just putting 15 players on the park, and I personally have high hopes for this team to do well in the Rugby Championship this year.Tweet