Springboks need rejuvenation to get back to the top

Heyneke Meyer

Watching South Africa play this year has been horrible, bar the first twenty-minute period in the second test versus England, we have seen this nation crippled by a one dimensional game plan, an uninspiring captain and a most importantly a coach who seems terribly out of his depth at this level.

Heyneke Meyer has talked about the team not even being near where he wants them to be. I disagree – this team has peaked already and now needs to be stripped back and rebuilt again. Playing to an outdated Bulls gameplan has proved that you can’t bully teams at international level anymore and simply kicking the ball away and applying pressure isn’t good enough to beat the other top nations in the world.

We all know that Pieter de Villiers was a purely political appointment by the Bok management and really Meyer should have been given that post, but the past is not to be dwelled upon. Meyer is now the coach of a team quickly becoming a laughing stock for its out-of-date tactics and conservative selections. In 2007 the Bok team was built around a near faultless lineout, a pack that could bully anybody and two potent wingers who, when given a sniff of an opportunity, would finish any chance. The tactical kicking of that team was superb, Fourie du Preez was (and still is) the best box kicker in the game, whilst Percy Montgomery was a fantastic kicker of goals.

South Africa have lost that consistency, and Morne Steyn is a shadow of his former self. His ability to run a game has always been in doubt but his goal-kicking was a sure thing – however, he has missed routine opportunities throughout the Rugby Championship this season.

Francois Hougaard is wasted at scrum half, where his elusive running is kept in check by opposition back rows and his box kicking is not up to his predecessor in the green and gold number nine jersey. Meyer was right to move him to the wing for some of the later tests this year but he has hardly seen the ball. Ruan Pienaar is a better scrum half for this side, and whilst he had an awful game against the All Blacks in Dunedin, I hope that Meyer persists with this selection.

What South Africa need to find is a balance between the type of game they play now and some penetrative running from their backs. For me, two players have to be reinstated to this team with others coming into the XV to add the necessary edge that is missing. Firstly Patrick Lambie has to be the Fly-Half going forward – his ability to run a game is already far beyond Steyn’s and he can also play flat, bringing his team mates onto the gain line around him.

Second and more importantly bring in Heinrich Brussow – he is an absolute dog on the ground and has the potential to be the best openside flank in the world. Meyer must give him a chance to play against McCaw or Pocock to show how much he can influence a game.

The management must also select a long term captain to lead this team up to and including the next World Cup. I suggest Bismarck du Plessis – a player who is sure of a starting position in this team and who always plays well for South Africa. Elsewhere the backs must be rejuvenated and encouraged to look for the ball and when given a solid platform by the forwards, to take that territory offered and run with the ball instead of kicking it away.

To these ends here is a team to play in the Autumn internationals with a new game plan successfully implemented (taking into consideration injuries to some player such as Spies and JP Pieterson).

Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis (c), Jannie du Pessis, Eben Etzebeth, Andries Bekker, Wilhelm Alberts, Heinrich Brussow, Duane Vermeulen; Ruan Pienaar, Patrick Lambie, Francois Hougaard, Francois Steyn, Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon

By Josh Kewell

7 thoughts on “Springboks need rejuvenation to get back to the top

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. The game plan of the Springboks is so outdated it’s not even funny. As a South African and a die hard Springbok fan I’m often frustrated by comments from the players and management about this ‘game plan’ their are implementing game in and game out, always referring to when it worked in the past and how they believe in it. They just have to face the facts and move on from these tactics and come up with something different because teams know what to expect from them. It’s painful for me to see back-line players who have so much potential to do damage to opposition defenses not get much of the ball even if the ‘Boks have a lot of possession. I’m referring to players like Pat Lambie, Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard and Gio Aplon (who was not even selected in the squad for The Rugby Championship). I reckon Heyneke Meyer must start from scratch, come up with a better game plan that gives his players a bit of freedom to ‘express’ themselves and play with a bit of imagination. I just hope the two losses suffered to the hands of the two best ranked teams in the world would have discouraged those rubbish tactics being implemented in the future and facilitate an outside of the box way of thinking. We are a rugby-mad country and we want nothing more than to see the mighty Springboks dethrone the All Blacks from that number one position they’ve held for a while now and become the first rugby nation to win the William Webb Ellis Trophy for the third time in England in 2015. Go Bokke!!!

  2. If problems persist with goal kicking and on field leadership then a change of game plan alone probably won’t solve a lot.

    With the majority of posession and territory against the ABs along with a dominant scrum I don’t see HM doing a U turn yet, when an away game against the world champs was lost through missed kicks alone. Shame, as a neutral on these matters, as when you have all time greats in a team (like Habana) you want to see as many of the moments of magic as possible.

  3. i agree with you in pretty much all. i cant think how you miss burger, vermuelen aint good enough for long term international rugby. alberts can play at 8 and then we might have space for burger at flank. i also think juan de john aint that good. i would put ( thinking in 2015 ) a chance on that south african centre that won the u20 award, i cant remember the name, but he was an outstanding player and i think the boks can make a kinda oconnor of him, with 20-30 caps at 20 years

  4. I dont see pat lambie starting a game on flyhalf u’ve gota be kidding,johan goosen is far better,now jaco taute is there & he is a better fullback than lambie,gio aplon is not an international winger or fullback ”defence”,i’m not a big fan of zane eithe

  5. I think our problem is no 15,no 13,no 10 but its pending & no 9 this is how i think would be better,just an opinion at 15=jaco taute 13=paul jordaan 10=johan goosen 9=ruan is ok for now but we need better,i feel sorry for juan de jongh but paul jordaan is

  6. Felix,

    Watch out for the Sharks Currie cup scrummie this year- Cobus Reinach, bags of potential, hopefully he makes the grade.

    WP’s Groom is good too.

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