So Morne Steyn has been re-established as Heyneke Meyer’s number one and who could argue his decision? Patrick Lambie had possibly his worse season (albeit behind a struggling Sharks pack) since 2010 when he made his debut for the Sharks in the Super 14. Later that year he was integral in the Sharks’ Currie-Cup-Champion campaign when he moved to fly-half for the Sharks for the first time. Lambie’s form isn’t the only arguing factor though, as Morne Steyn played some of the best rugby he has played in a long while. Even the cruellest of critics, like myself, couldn’t deny that Morne still may have something to offer in a Springbok jersey. Maybe a break from the game really did him some good (or fatherhood), but Morne certainly looks comfortable in his role with the Sprinboks again.
This however does not explain why Lambie (and every other fly-half for that matter) has seemingly completely fallen out of favour as fly-half cover. Nothing has been said about this topic in the media yet, but going on what we have seen in the first two tests against Argentina, it seems as though the Bok coach is completely reluctant to replace Morne Steyn for even a moment. It is certainly understandable that Steyn was not taken off in the second match against Argentina, where the forwards were clearly struggling to produce any decent momentum and space for the South African backs against a combative Argentina onslaught. Steyn was handling the pressure like a veteran and more importantly slotting every shot at goal with the confidence and ease we’ve gotten used in the past. Bringing a very inexperienced international fly-half on during this match could have been detrimental, for the team and maybe even the player.
The first match, on the other hand, was probably in the bag 5 minutes into the second half. Lambie came on at the 50 minute mark, which would have been ideal if the coach didn’t decide to rather replace Willie le Roux (who was having an excellent game and could have also used more experience at international level) and gave Lambie, the only other fly-half in Meyer’s squad, 30 minutes at fullback.
This poses the question, what would Meyer have done had Morne Steyn picked up a bump during the nerve wrecking stages of that second half in Mendoza? Would it have been fair to ask of the young man to step up and finish out that game? Lambie has the maturity that would suggest he would be capable, but why would a coach take that chance? And what if Morne Steyn comes back from his duties to his new French club with a niggle, unable to start the game against the Wallabies? Would Meyer trust the 22 year old to do the job? I suppose, the fact is, he would have no choice. It would seem it would then be in the best interest of the player, the team and the coach to give the player as much game time before this situation presents itself.
Maybe Heyneke Meyer has a plan that we are unaware of, but if that’s the case, this plan was not very apparent during the past two tests. The fact is when it comes to a couple of the key positions in a rugby team, every team needs a capable and ready number two, one that the coach can show his trust in and one that the coach has prepared to take the field whenever he is needed. At hooker we have Struass and Bissie, at scum-half the one struggling can easily be replaced with the other (not ideal, but it plays to my point), at inside centre, lock and even fullback we have the same – and it seems as though the coaches are “looking into” the tight-head situation. It is only fly-half where Meyer is neglecting to employ this strategy.
Unless Lambie is not Meyer’s ideal option and he’s waiting on an injured player to return, he needs to show some faith in the young man and give him time on the field to develop his skills, confidence and decision making at international level giving him an opportunity to gain some invaluable experience, just in case he is needed at some point.Tweet