I read a News24 article in which Heyneke Meyer states that the Springboks draw against Argentina was due to inexperience and it will not help to change players but rather that they should learn from this. Let us have a quick look at the team and the experience they do have:
15. Zane Kirchner, 16 caps
14. Bryan Habana, 78 caps
13. Jean de Villiers (c), 76 caps
12. Frans Steyn, 50 caps
11. Lwazi Mvovo, 5 caps
10. Morné Steyn, 38 caps
9. Francois Hougaard, 19 caps
8. Willem Alberts, 12 caps
7. Jacques Potgieter, 2 caps
6. Marcell Coetzee, 4 caps
5. Andries Bekker, 25 caps
4. Eben Etzebeth, 4 caps
3. Jannie du Plessis, 34 caps
2. Adriaan Strauss (vc), 13 caps
1. Tendai Mtawarira, 36 caps
16. Tiaan Liebenberg, uncapped
17. Pat Cilliers,1 cap
18. Flip van der Merwe, 15 caps
19. Keegan Daniel, 4 caps
20. Ruan Pienaar, 55 caps
21. Pat Lambie, 13 caps
22. JJ Engelbrecht, 1 cap
Only 8 players have not played more than 5 tests. Of these only 4 were in the starting lineup and this should not have made a difference. To me it is purely a thing of trying to counter a weaker teams strong points and not focusing on our own. If experience is such a problem why then did you send Juan de Jongh home and kept JJ Engelbrecht in the side? De Jongh has far more experience than JJ. Why play Potgieter in front of Daniel and then replace Alberts with Daniel. Why not start with Pienaar who has 55 caps instead of Hougaard with only 19? Saying some of the players have never played in these condition away from home is grasping at straws. They have all played Super Rugby in New Zealand against some of the strongest competition around. TO go further and say you are not going to make changes to go and play in those conditions shows me you are not thinking.
Inexperience was not the Springboks downfall, but rather the type of game they played. Trying to counter Argentina up front with big ball carriers didn’t work and we were in need of a fetcher and someone to secure the our own ball. This never happened and it put Francois Hougaard under pressure. Hougaard has had 5 chances in the starting position at scrumhalf and not once has he really impressed, except maybe the second test against England. In turn Morne Steyn got pressurized at fly half and when that happens he starts to kick the ball aimlessly. Poor Frans Steyn and Jean de Villiers lived of scraps in midfield on attack.
Kirchner coming into the backline is not going to help if he is just going to run straight at the defense and not put his wingers in space. The whole idea of the fullback coming into the line is to hit a gap or to create an overlap. Kirchner is just not doing that at the moment. Poor Bryan Habana saw more of the ball cleaning from the base of the ruck than he saw on the wing. Kudus to him for looking for work. Potgieter never gained field when running with the ball and was of no use. Daniel came on and immediately he got the turnover from a maul. Tiaan Liebenberg did more in the few minutes he was on the field than Potgieter did in the whole game. What Flip vd Merwe is doing in the side is anyone’s guess. He has been prone to giving away penalties and getting yellow carded for ill- discipline this whole season. And true to this he conceded a openalty (and 3 points) within 30 seconds after taking the field.
So Heyneke before trying to sell me the hogwash of the team being inexperienced, and that being the reason the Springboks struggled, rather look at the players back home that is inform and also look at your game plan. Where is Sarel Pretorius, Steven Sykes, Louis Ludick and Weillie Le Roux? And please stop this kick and chase drivel we see every week. It has not worked for years and it sure as hell is going to start working now just because you are the coach. Maybe you should have said the Springboks struggled because an inexperienced coaching team dreamt up what they would like to call a game plan. I call it nothing more than a farce. Stop living in 2007 and look at how rugby is played around the world today in 2012.
But then as they say: “The best helmsman is always on shore.” I last thought: “The safest place for a ship is in the harbor, but that is not what ships are made for.” Take a couple of chances and see how it goes, you might well be surprised at the outcome and response.
As always these are just my views…………………………..
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