Mind Games: All eyes on Heyneke ahead of World Cup

2014-10-20 09:00

After getting the monkey off his back by finally beating the All Blacks, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer received more good news last week with the announcement of the dates of next year’s Rugby Championship.

It had already been declared that the championship would be a truncated version, with each of the four countries playing each other just once, but a worrying factor for Meyer, indeed the other coaches too, was that one of the options being looked at was to insert the southern hemisphere tournament after the completion of the rugby World Cup in England on October 31 2015.

If that had been the case, Meyer would have had just four more tests – this year’s outgoing tour in November to play Ireland, England, Italy and Wales – to put the pieces in place for the World Cup.

However, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby has announced that the championship will be played during July and August, immediately after what in 2015 will be a full fixture list of the Super Rugby competition.

The Springboks will kick off their 2015 Rugby Championship campaign against Australia in Brisbane on July 18.

The Boks will then play New Zealand and Argentina at home, finishing with an away match against Los Pumas.

Although it was always likely that pressure from coaches Meyer, Steve Hansen, Ewen McKenzie and Daniel Hourcade would prevail, the announcement of what will now be an ideal set of matches to prepare for the World Cup would have come as a boon to the quartet responsible for plotting how to annex the Webb Ellis Cup.

However, Meyer is faced with some difficult decisions regarding the November tour to Europe.

Does he go with his most senior side to maintain momentum and the dominance the Springboks have over northern hemisphere nations, or does he allow for rest and recuperation for some and experiment with different players – especially in positions that need bolstering?

Tight head prop, for instance, must surely be a concern for the coach.

Jannie du Plessis has soldiered on stoically in the No?3 jersey, but there were signs as the season wore on that the good doctor from KwaZulu-Natal was in need of a break.

The experiment with Coenie Oosthuizen at tight head did not work.

So will Meyer decide to allow Marcel van der Merwe, who did a good job coming on as a substitute this season, and his original back-up, Frans Malherbe, who should have recovered from his injury, to stake their claims?

There are also questions about who will play loose head, where Tendai “The Beast” Mtawarira has been some way short of the rampaging forward that earned him his nickname.

Is it time to bank on Trevor Nyakane, bring Oosthuizen back into what appears to be his best position and allow Gürthro Steenkamp to quietly fade into retirement in France?

Although the SA Rugby Union’s contracted players have been pulled out of the Currie Cup, would 37-year-old Victor Matfield, who confounded all those who questioned his decision to come out of retirement, and other long servers such as Jean de Villiers, Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana do better out of a good break than if they were given more action?

On top of it all, a scourge of injuries will complicate Meyer’s life.

Will Francois Louw, a potential captain if De Villiers or Matfield are unavailable, be ready? Is Meyer still interested in Pierre Spies?

Has Ruan Pienaar run his race given the energy and urgency instilled by the scrum half combination of Francois Hougaard and Cobus Reinach?

Is it not time to take another look at Juan de Jongh, and is there room for the exceptional dynamism of Seabelo Senatla?

Meyer also has to factor in how to accommodate players tied into overseas contracts, but he has had the chance to work with virtually every possible candidate and the 36-man squad he picks (to be announced next Sunday) for the November tour will provide an indication of his thinking.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.