Bok team spoiled for choice in flyhalves

2012-05-04 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Heyneke Meyer believes the flyhalf trade in South Africa may be at a 10-year high, and that it will enhance the country’s overall backline play as a result.

Speaking at a media briefing at Newlands yesterday, the Springbok coach said it was one of the positions giving him fewer concerns than others, just a few weeks ahead the international season starting against England with three home Tests.

He was asked how much of a knock it was for Cheetahs wunderkind Johan Goosen to be ruled out for several months with a dislocated shoulder sustained against the Highlanders last weekend. “I won’t say he wouldn’t have made the June Tests, but I won’t say he would have, either. Put it this way: he’d have had a good chance.

“But the great things is, suddenly a position where I thought South Africa were perhaps lacking for the last 10 years or so — we had one or two flyhalves, but not too many who could create or play tactically — [now boast] four or five great options.

“I’ve also been very impressed by Peter Grant lately. He’s playing his best rugby, so he’s an option.

“As for Goosen, I do believe he can become the best flyhalf in the world when he reaches a mature age. I’ve chatted to him a lot, and told him I like the way he puts his body on the line, is very physical … I want that from a flyhalf or any player representing South Africa for that matter.

“The injury is a blow, and he’ll get others in his career, but he’s mentally tough and hopefully the rehab goes well and he’ll be back playing. He’s a guy we can definitely [earmark] for the future, with some special attributes.

“But Patrick Lambie is another youngster in the running and Elton Jantjies was impressive in the camp.

“So yes, suddenly there are fine flyhalves and that’s why I think our backline play will improve.

“World Cups and especially finals have shown how important the number 10 is to your game plan.

“If you look at my history I’ve not been scared to pick young ones in that position: Derick [Hougaard], Morné [Steyn] were about 19 or 20 when [blooded by the Bulls during Meyer’s tenure there].”

Asked if the high-stakes Bulls versus Stormers derby a week before the first Test against England was a perpetual nightmare to him, Meyer said: “All four [SA teams playing on June 2] are worrying me!”

Apart from the big north-south crunch, there is also a match between the Lions and Sharks in Johannesburg.

“I don’t want to talk up those games as ‘final trials’ because then they will definitely kill each other … I ought to have a 90% idea of the side before entering them.

“But I’ll still only name the team after those games have taken place.”

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