So Heyneke Meyer got his management team finally. It’s as close to his a-list as he could hope to achieve. Now comes the arduous task of trials and squad selection for the June tests.
Here is where I’m blinking several times. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There is a strong rumor that he is seeking Victor Matfield as his captain for these tests. 34 year old Victor, who while fit (he cycled the Argus) has not played top-level rugby since the RWC in November. It’s now April.
There is also rumor that he is bringing back many of the old-guard from France and Japan including Jacques Fourie, Fourie du Preez and Bakkies.
What the fuck?
Let’s deal with this one point at a time.
1) Bringing back players to play.
If we are honest Fourie du Preez was a spent force before the World Cup. We kept waiting for him to peak and it never happened. When Hougaard took the field, the pace of the game increased and there as an electricity that anything could happen in a moment. Bakkies never even made it past the group stages and has been sitting out for Toulon till very recently. Victor has not taken contact since November.
In each of their positions there is a player in his young twenties playing outstanding rugby at Super 15 level at the moment.
Hougaard, Kruger and Etzebeth are week in and week out making the form 15 for the competition.
Jacques Fourie has already made himself unavailable spouting something about being committed in Japan and there being many brilliant young centers in South Africa. Comendable as it sounds we know that the real reason is that their is a clause in his contract that says if he plays for any other team and gets injured he jeapordises his R20m payday to play in Japan for 3 seasons.
Not that he is wrong: there are many young centers, just not at outside, where the stocks are looking a bit bare.
2) Matfield as my captain
Heyneke I’ll let you in on a little secret: Victor is not a great national captain. For whatever reason he is not nearly as effective as he was as a Super 15 captain. He has rubbed refs up the wrong way and when things don’t go his way he whines. “You’re only looking at what we doing…” Does he bring experience? Sure. Is he the best captain that we have? No.
3) The young guys coming through
This is what I don’t understand. Last year the selectors rested the top Boks from the try-nations, but instead of playing the young-guns and telling them “have a go”. They played dour test-rugby with the fringe members of the squad who played well within themselves not to get injured. Who gives a fuck who won the try-nations last year in the year of World Cup. Because of that we missed the opportunity to find some gems who could have made the squad on outstanding form, with international experience.
Here we are, new year, new coach and we are making the same mistake again. Yes Heyneke you want to win, that is commendable, but for flips sake man, it’s England in a rebuilding phase. Blood the young ones now for the upcoming tri-nations. Surely this makes sense?
My Bok 22:
1) The Beast
2) Bismark du Plessis
3) Jannie du Plessis
4) Eben Etzebeth
5) Juandre Kruger
6) Heinrich Brussow
7) Duane Vermeulen
8) Schalk Burger (c)
9) Francois Hougaard
10) Morne Steyn
11) Bryan Habana
12) Francois Steyn
13) Juan de Jongh
14) JP Pieterson
15) Pat Lambie
16) Coenie Oosthuizen
17) Chiliboy Ralepelle
18) Rynhardt Elstadt
19) Willem Alberts
20) Piet van Zyl
21) Johan Goosen
22) Gio Aplon
It’s a good mix of experience and youth. They can play tight, driving rugby, they can play open running rugby. Most importantly there is experience there to guide the young ones through. This is a team that would have the vaunted All Blacks thinking “crises”, never mind a 2nd rate England side.