Richard Ferguson

de Villiers vs Meyer – who is better?

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 13 Sep 2012 at 13:30
Tagged with : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Heyneke Meyer and his selections and lack of a game plan that can win the Springboks a game of rugby has received a lot of air-time this week, with plenty of calls prior to the announcement of the team for both Johan Goosen and Pat Lambie to be included in the squad. My mind wandered to a time when we complained about the same two issues but with a different coach in charge.

It was not too long ago when we were lambasting a certain Peter de Villiers for his lack of a game plan and letting the players themselves select how they were going to play in a match, and choosing who was taking the field of play. This was always just a rumour, and if this was in fact not the case, then de Villiers had his ups and downs in team selection.

A fellow blogger reminded me that a certain Springbok team, under de Villiers as coach, beat Argentina by a record 54 points, this not even a year after the Pumas finished third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Fast forward four years and we have an Argentinian team that pushed South Africa in their first home fixture of the Rugby Championship, and followed that up with a draw in their own country a week later.

Now, I know that comparing these events might seem silly and a waste of time, but I cannot help but wonder how a team still being coached by de Villiers would have fared against the same Puma outfit, never mind the English series we had prior to the Rugby Championship.

Looking back at de Villiers’ reign as coach, we can make some assumptions as to who would have taken the field of play in this year so far, assuming that both John Smit and Victor Matfield are still retired.

A player such as Heinrich Brüssow would have had a big part to play in the team, especially since Schalk Burger was, and still is, injured. Francois Louw, who formed part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Squad might have been called upon much earlier than he has under Meyer, while Johann Muller and could have been another foreign based player to be considered, potentially even as captain. One of the thoughts that crossed my mind was whether Ryan Kankowski, who played 19 of his 20 Springbok matches under de Villiers, would have left for a sabbatical in Japan?

There are so many variables that have to be taken into account that can never lead us to a direct answer as to whether a de Villiers coached team would be doing better than a Meyer team, but some of the players currently being selected, as well as some sitting either on the bench or at home, leads me to think that some results would have turned out completely differently, whether for the better or for the worse.


  • Said it a thousand times, the problem in SA rugby (bok level) has never been the coaches, wasn’t when Peter was coach, neither Jake for that matter – and the problem with the Boks currently is not Heyneke.

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.09.12 13:34:18 by Morné Reply
  • I can tell you what has remained the same over the years though.

    I was one of very few folks who supported White. When he left and Peter came into the picture, all those that called for White’s head begged him to come back in place of Peter.

    I supported Peter in the same way I supported White, and since his reign will still be fresh in most folks memory, you will know that once again I was one of very few who did.

    When Peter left a collective sigh of ‘thank goodness’ went up all around SA.

    Guess what I am reading around social media now (not just this article)? ‘Please Peter come back!’

    Got to love SA Rugby.

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.09.12 13:37:31 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 2) : fickle and impatient as usual, same with the cricket “supporters” and their love for Graeme and the word “choking”.

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.09.12 13:40:50 by molly Reply
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  • Alot of good coaching has to do with timing.
    Coaches are very often only as good as the players at their disposal.

    HM in 2002 with no real names in the Blue Bulls – Finished stone last and were the laughing stock of Super Rugby.
    HM in 2007 with Matfield, Botha, Du Preez etc win the whole comp.
    Coaching and talent scout guru? Or just lucky that he had those particular players at that particular time?

    De Villiers then took over a great Bok side and, as you say, smashed the Argies a year after winnig the WC. Does this make him a coaching god? Nah lucky timing wrt the players he had I think.
    Then 4 years later, with those same great players very long in the tooth, he loses in the quarters to the Ausies.
    Bad timing.

    Robbie Deans wins more SR titles than any other coach with some of the best rugby players on the planet.
    Then Robbie takes control of a weak Ausie side although he’s only done relatively well with them, its mainly because of the emergence of some really great players recently – Genia, Cooper, Beale, Moore etc.
    Does his relatively unsuccessful tenure as Aus coach make him a bad coach?
    Nah, bad timing.

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.09.12 13:45:25 by John Galt Reply

    John Galt
  • @Morné (Comment 2) :

    I think it’s unfair to compare coaches because they have different players at different times BUT what really concerns me about Meyer is his ‘apparent’ hardegat attitude and the consistent blaming of the players for everything that’s wrong.

    He seems so set in his ways and inflexible and he doesn’t strike me as the type of person that will EVER admit that he’s on the wrong road or willing to change his ways.

    Only time will tell I guess. 🙄

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.09.12 13:47:20 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 4) : I don’t think you give HM enough credit for making those players, for recognising their talent and building them up. He didn’t just happen upon them in 2007.

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.09.12 13:47:25 by molly Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 2) :

    Look, I am not asking de Villiers to come back..

    Him in charge of the Boks would be a step in the wrong direction, but that is my personal opinion.

    The article is meant to be thought provoking, and that is all..

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.09.12 13:48:05 by Richard Ferguson Reply
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    Richard Ferguson
  • @John Galt (Comment 4) :

    What did someone say the other day…

    Heyneke finally got the job he deserved 4 years ago – pity he also wants to play the type of game of 4 years ago too.

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.09.12 13:49:38 by Morné Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 5) :

    Replace the name ‘Heyneke Meyer’ in your post with ‘Jake White’, read archives from 2006/2007 and it would be relevant then!

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.09.12 13:51:43 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 8) :

    Very well said. Exactly how I feel in a nutshell.

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.09.12 13:52:56 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Richard Ferguson (Comment 7) :

    Indeed, no-where did you ask it, and the article is relevant as per my post regarding coaches and the challenges each of them face each year in charge of a Bok team.

  • Comment 11, posted at 13.09.12 13:53:36 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 9) :

    Same shit different coach!

    Look you said it would happen and it will probably happen with every single future coach.

  • Comment 12, posted at 13.09.12 13:54:35 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 12) :

    It is why I love rugby in this country – never a dull moment!

    Take some comments now on social media and in newspapers;

    “Boks play boring, one-dimensional rugby”
    “Bulls blueprint not working for Boks”
    “Kick and chase rugby is out of date”
    “Boks lack vision”

    Isn’t this what PDV wanted to bring to Bok rugby in 2008? And no-one gave him the time of day?

    Can I then say PDV was a visionary 4 years ahead of the average Bok supporter and journalists in this country? 😈

  • Comment 13, posted at 13.09.12 13:58:23 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 8) : So HM and PdV’s appointments should have been reversed.

    PdV wanted the Boks to play the situation when they only knew how to stick to structure.

    Now that we finally have the talent to play the situation, HM is stuck to the structures which was needed back in 2008.

    So what’s the solution? Do you think HM’s outdated game plan will eventually pay off, even though the rules of the game has been changed and structured to thwart such a game plan?

  • Comment 14, posted at 13.09.12 14:02:44 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 13) :

    I just can’t help but think what a coach like Graham Henry would be able to get out of the Boks.

    My gripe overall has been the same as yours mainly and that is that players are not allowed to think. Obviously a rugby game needs structure but also teach the players to think.

    I can only but wish. I still think the majority of coaches in SA ‘overcoaches’ if that makes any sense?

  • Comment 15, posted at 13.09.12 14:03:37 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 14) :

    No, the excuses are just convenient now and in 2008.

    Remember John, Victor were ‘retired’ in 2008 and we had exciting young talent then as we have now.

    @Pokkel (Comment 15) :

    Like I said, convenient excuses – when we had a guy that wanted to bring what everyone has been crying for he was called a clown.

    Now that we have a more conservative coach we are begging for the clown to come back and ‘save us’…

  • Comment 16, posted at 13.09.12 14:07:24 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 13) : I think our national coaches aren’t able to adapt their coaching style for the type of player at their disposal.

    Which means they can’t see beyond their preconceived plans.

  • Comment 17, posted at 13.09.12 14:07:55 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 1) : If not the coaches – who then? The players? The management? The Goverment?

    I have to agree with Pokkel on his seemingly hardegat houding, not wanting to swop a player who is clearly out of form, yet drop another straight after one game (which I may add was not his fault that he could not do much)?

    If he is being ‘puppeted” – I doubt he will have such a confident stance and talk crap in media statements “such as the backs that need to take their opportunities” etc 0 I am sure they would have if it was given to them and not being stuffed by a one dimensional player he insists on playing etc.

    I’d love to hear what your opinion is, coz I sure as hell cannot work this out …

  • Comment 18, posted at 13.09.12 14:08:12 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Probably too early to judge HM, but I do not like some of his statements and excuses:

    – blame only the centres for the backline woes and exonerate Morne of all blame.
    – insist that line breaks only occur in movies and that kicking is the only answer

    I don’t believe it is a case of only a running or kicking game – you need to mix these up as the situation demands. At the moment our running game sucks (totally predictable) and the kicking game has not worked in a long time (surrenders possession 95% of the time at international level).

    At least with Divvy he would at least come up with some pearlers you can smile at.

    I think Divvie had the right idea to want to play total heads-up rugby, but he did not know how to actually put that in place. And of course the players did not feel comfortable with that either

  • Comment 19, posted at 13.09.12 14:11:12 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Ice (Comment 18) :

    I imagine in Heyneke mind he’s saying.

    ‘Ek sal julle f*&&^%n wys my plan is reg’

    ‘ Wie de f*k is julle om te sê Morné Steyn is k*k?’

  • Comment 20, posted at 13.09.12 14:12:16 by Pokkel Reply
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  • The problem in South Africa is that every coach is so afraid to lose that they just refuse to try something new. What they don’t realize is that sticking to the same gameplan, is making our team predictable.

    If I was the headcoach (I am afraid I will never will though) I would ask SARU for 2 years of development without being judged based on the results. In those 2 years I would try several ractics, bring in new players and start off with a team average age 24. That way, in 4 years those players have enough experience, the team will be able to play several styles and things will look a lot fresher.

    I rather lose 35-33 than winning 9-7. Winning by small margins without scoring tries will only get you so far. In the end you will lose more than you’ll win against the Tasman teams.

  • Comment 21, posted at 13.09.12 14:12:29 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 17) :

    We struggle to get this right at Super Rugby level.

    @Ice (Comment 18) :

    We have been talking about this for years. Just apply it to the final product (bok coaching)

    We have 5 franchises in this country all pulling in different directions, with different visions, and different goals. If Bok rugby is the ‘end’ or final product we are supposed to produce showcasing the rugby talent of this country through 22 players we are doing a pretty shitty job in doing it or pulling our resources together to accomplish this.

  • Comment 22, posted at 13.09.12 14:12:55 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 16) : Who would you have picked as our 9/10 combo in 2008 – 2011?

  • Comment 23, posted at 13.09.12 14:14:18 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • I was hoping that HM (being a typical conservative SA coach) would be able to start tweaking the way the Boks play and slowly get us in the right direction, but all I am seeing is regression at the moment.

    Then again I do not rate his assistants at all – Van Graan doubling as the attacking coach, and Loubscher straight from Vodacom Cup to Bok back line coach !!!

    IMO HM was at his most successful when he paired with Loudon

  • Comment 24, posted at 13.09.12 14:16:22 by Bokhoring Reply
  • I must run though, chat later folks.

  • Comment 25, posted at 13.09.12 14:16:45 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 25) :

    I would like to know from you….Argentina or Australia this weekend?

  • Comment 26, posted at 13.09.12 14:21:32 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @TRF_Ezequiel (Comment 21) : the truth is – I ( and I am not talking about others) am willing to give meyer a chance – even if it means losing a good few – but then he must test combinations and not be hardegat etc.

    I guess it wont work as i dont know what perforamce clauses he has – but surely no-one in their right mind would expect him to deliver instantly? (Other than himself that is)

    He comes across as a bit of an egoist…”winning all games” – I am afraid he has set himself up for failure with that attitude

  • Comment 27, posted at 13.09.12 14:22:10 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Morné (Comment 25) : You throw klippe in die bos, now us dogs are barking and you run away 😆 :mrgreen:

  • Comment 28, posted at 13.09.12 14:23:33 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • guys, some help please. maybe im dumb. I switched from blackberry to a galaxy note and now sharksworld automatically opens up in the full page version. How do i open the mobi site on my samsung?

  • Comment 29, posted at 13.09.12 14:24:01 by West Indies Cricket Board Reply
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    West Indies Cricket Board
  • @Pokkel (Comment 26) : The question should rather be, how embarrassing will SA’s performance vs. the ozzies look after the Argies beat them this weekend?

    What will HM’s response be? Once again quote us a bunch of useless kicking stats!

  • Comment 30, posted at 13.09.12 14:27:34 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 23) :

    Why Tiger Woods of course!

    @Pokkel (Comment 26) :

    Argentina is my call, but probably a bridge too far for them.

    @Ice (Comment 27) :

    It took the Sharks almost a full SR season to get their combo’s right in the end, it has taken WP 3 years under Coetzee to finally start playing some skillfull rugby.

    6 tests, no pre-season, no camps, no trials, no warm up games – it is tough at test level. You don’t just pull rabbits out of the hat when it comes to combinations – especially if 40% of your first choice players are out injured.

  • Comment 31, posted at 13.09.12 14:28:18 by Morné Reply
  • But now I must go.

  • Comment 32, posted at 13.09.12 14:28:49 by Morné Reply
  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 29) : I think at the bottom, there shoudl be a button to click – “switch to mobile edition” or something!

  • Comment 33, posted at 13.09.12 14:31:10 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @Morné (Comment 32) : good luck 🙂

  • Comment 34, posted at 13.09.12 14:33:31 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 2) : No. I never ever ever want to see Pdivvie coach again. Unless it is netball.

  • Comment 35, posted at 13.09.12 14:35:46 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @robdylan (Comment 34) :

    Thanks boet, will drop you a line later.

  • Comment 36, posted at 13.09.12 14:36:49 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 31) : Ja maar – hy kon asl ‘n stappie nader gewees het as hy nie so f*@#$% hardkoppig was nie! LOL

  • Comment 37, posted at 13.09.12 14:36:52 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Good article Rich. I reckon we will best be able to answer after one full season.

    I backed both White and Pieter, but Meyer’s lack of clear direction on selections has me bothered. We don’t get a consistent message from him.

  • Comment 38, posted at 13.09.12 14:36:59 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 29) : Congratulations on making an intelligent tech choice.

  • Comment 39, posted at 13.09.12 14:37:55 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @Ice (Comment 27) : The problem is that he is not performing AND not testing new combo’s. I was willing to accept that for the England tests but this is a new low. Morne is missing his kicks and not bringing anything on attack and still he gets the knot over Goosen and Lambie. It’s just not justifiable anymore. I am getting more nervous for Sharks matches these days than Springbok matches. I rather watch the U21 Sharks lose than the Boks win, that’s how low my expectations to this Springbulls team has sunk.

    I miss Snor.

  • Comment 40, posted at 13.09.12 14:38:14 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • @Morné (Comment 36) : Good luck – dunno for what – but GOOD LUCK! 😀

  • Comment 41, posted at 13.09.12 14:38:24 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • I don’t want another coach, just want our current coach to be open to technical advice/direction and stop acting as though he knows everything.

  • Comment 42, posted at 13.09.12 14:39:29 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • @Big Fish (Comment 38) : AMEN Fish, AMEN!

  • Comment 43, posted at 13.09.12 14:40:28 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • @West Indies Cricket Board (Comment 29) : what exactly is the Galaxy Note? Is it a tablet?

  • Comment 44, posted at 13.09.12 14:43:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 20) : Hehe! Voel nou sommer of ek terug in NN is!

  • Comment 45, posted at 13.09.12 14:44:12 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • You guys have got it all wrong , it’s not Meyer coaching the team it’s the senior players particularly de Villiers and Morne Steyn. Just like coach Smit wouldn’t drop himself, so coach Morne Steyn won’t drop himself….. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 46, posted at 13.09.12 15:07:10 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive Pass
  • Heyneke Meyer on Morne Steyn:

    “I don’t think he should change the way he plays, I think it’s more the outside backs who must use their opportunities.

    UNBELIEVABLE! Blaming everyone except Morne Steyn.

  • Comment 47, posted at 13.09.12 15:22:53 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • @TRF_Ezequiel (Comment 47) : Dont you read my comments? What am I?? Cheescake? LOL

    I mentioned this in one of my comments to Morras…unbelievable as you say!

  • Comment 48, posted at 13.09.12 15:32:54 by Ice Reply
    Competition Winner Ice
  • Sorry Ice… I am already ignoring you haha. Not on purpose though 😉

  • Comment 49, posted at 13.09.12 15:33:52 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • @King Shark (Comment 45) :

    Ons praat darem nie almal so nie. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 50, posted at 13.09.12 15:35:21 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Ice (Comment 41) :

    As the gynie said Ice, double trouble…

  • Comment 51, posted at 13.09.12 17:33:57 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 51) : LIKE

  • Comment 52, posted at 13.09.12 17:53:51 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 51) : fantastic!!!! 😀

  • Comment 53, posted at 13.09.12 19:25:58 by Ice Reply
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  • @Pokkel (Comment 15) :

    “I just can’t help but think what a coach like Graham Henry would be able to get out of the Boks.” – You mean like getting knocked out at the quarter finals of the world cup!!!

    @ everyone Else – We gotta compare apples with apples here. PD got a developed team. we need to compare HM to a Carel DuPlessis or a John Williams

  • Comment 54, posted at 13.09.12 19:41:21 by byron Reply

  • @byron (Comment 54) : you reckon graham henry took over a developed side in 2004? by 2007 his team had a win-ratio of above 80% even though they got cheated out of the ’07 world cup!

    the man still MAINTAINED his 85% win ratio up until 2011 RWC. From 2007 he introduced kaino, read, whitelock, conrad smith, owen franks, ben franks, wyatt crockett, kahui, jane, dagg, messam, cruden, sonny bill williams and at NO point did they ever accept LOSING because they were “developing”.

  • Comment 55, posted at 13.09.12 20:10:06 by Megatron Reply

  • The Argentina game in 2008 was outside of the international window and the Pumas were not able to select their best team.

  • Comment 56, posted at 14.09.12 02:27:25 by fyndraai Reply
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  • @John Galt (Comment 4) : Mate you do make a fair point…BUT HEYNEKE MEYER HAS PERFECT TIMING (apart from a few injuries)

    1. The long in the tooth players have retired.
    2. we had 3 teams in the top 6 of SuperRugby.

    There was a stat that showed Morne started the last 30 tests of which we won 16!!!! REALLY INSPIRING??!!

    We have awesome players coming through getting rave reviews from the Aus and NZ media. PAT LAMBIE IN PARTICULAR…
    – the only #10 that has done well with a retreating pack in Wellington a year ago. People strangely enough seem to forget that…

    We have depth in every single position except for #3!!!

    1. Beast/Coenie/Gurthro
    2. Bismarck/Strauss/Ralepele
    3. Jannie/Coenie
    4. Etzebeth/Bresler/Mostert
    5. Kruger/Bekker/Muller (+ Pieter Steph up and coming)
    6. Brussow/Flo/Keegan
    7. Coetzee/Burger/Alberts
    8. Kanko/Keegan/Vermeulen
    9. Pienaar/Hougaard/Vermaak (yes Vermaak is good)
    10. Lambie/Goosen/Jantjies/Grant
    11. Basson/Habana/Mvovo/Hougaard
    12. Whitehead/Steyn/de Villiers
    13. de Villiers/Jordaan/Eberhson/de Jongh/Engelbrecht
    14. Pietersen/Aplon/Hougaard
    15. Aplon/Taute/Ludik

  • Comment 57, posted at 14.09.12 03:46:01 by pienaar111 Reply

  • I dont reckon we are calling HM a bad coach, we are just really perplexed with his selections but it comes down to the players he knows. MS was our saving grace for the bokke because of his great kicking. But now he is stunting us because of his poor kicking. What HM needs to do is slowly ticker with off form players and give them the ax. Kirchner got the call because of his bulls affiliation but we cant really complain he has been solid if not completely bad. The other questionable selections have saved HM through their leaving for greener pastures or injury. Rome wasnt built in a day.

  • Comment 58, posted at 14.09.12 08:35:51 by Dunx Reply

  • @Megatron (Comment 55) : LIKE!

  • Comment 59, posted at 14.09.12 09:16:18 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @Dunx (Comment 58) : It’s twenty years since re-admission and we’re still claiming that Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    By this time it’s supposed to be mere maintenance and minor upgrades being done to this “Rome” of ours, yet we keep breaking down what little foundation was laid. Then “we” rebuild it just to end up with another half built foundation 4 years down the line.

  • Comment 60, posted at 14.09.12 09:59:22 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • In the last 2 years, we’ve played a total of 13 matches in SH competition rugby with Morne Steyn at fly-half. Of those 13, we have only won 3 (Australia 2010, NZ 2011 and Argentina 2012). We had 1 draw and lost 9(!)

    Yes, we win when playing Italy, Wales, Ireland, England, Samoa, Fiji and Namibia but that is just not good enough. Morne Steyn will win you 1 match a year against the big teams apparently.

  • Comment 61, posted at 14.09.12 10:13:32 by TRF_Ezequiel Reply

  • I hope Lambie gets some time tomorrow. I’ve almost forgotten how he even plays 😯

    Everyone thought Heynecke Meyer would be the answer. That he would produce a perfect Springbok team that plays extremely well and dominates opposition. And maybe he will but right now the fans aren’t happy as he has not produced to the unrealistic expectations placed on him.

    On the one hand I hope the Bokke win tomorrow just to ease some preassure off the team. On the other hand, I hope that Morne Steyn and Zane Kirchner have such a bad first half that Meyer simply has no choice but to put in Goosen and Lambie to play in the home leg of the Rugby Championship. 😎

  • Comment 62, posted at 14.09.12 17:37:37 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 62) : Well my second wish sort of came true, although I don’t see Meyer dropping either Kirchner or M.Steyn as he thinks Dean Greyling’s yellow card is what cost us the test, not the 15+ points missed with the boot…

  • Comment 63, posted at 15.09.12 20:35:48 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie

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