Heyneke Meyer and his team have done what no other team were able to do in the past two years, in beating the All Blacks yesterday at Ellis Park .
We were able to put some questions to him from our regulars here as Ruggaworld.
Davids – Heyneke the general media is criticising your team’s playing style as being staid and old fashioned as compared to say, New Zealand. How do you respond to criticism that your are simply rehashing the game plan that your Bulls played a decade ago using more or less the same players as the basis of that game plan?
Coach: I don’t necessarily agree with those assertions – the game has evolved over the last number of years, but the basics are still the same and those have to be in place…and those Bulls teams played superb rugby, such as the 92-3 win over the Reds in 2007 and the 61-17 win over the Chiefs in the Vodacom Super Rugby Final in 2009.
We want to score tries and play with the ball in hand – last year we scored the most tries of any Test team in the world – but this year we’ve had some bad weather for a couple of games and then you have to be able to adapt. I think the best example would’ve been the last 10 minutes at Newlands against Australia – on the back of imposing ourselves on the game with our traditional strengths, we played the situation well, in the right areas of the field and the players made great decisions.
The first half against New Zealand at Ellis Park was also very good from an attacking point of view.
Bekke – How difficult is it to balance the roles of coach and selector at this level?
Coach: A massive part of coaching is selection and I’ve always maintained that at this level, with the amount of time available for actual coaching, my role is more of a manager of people and roles in the team. But you have to ensure the right guys are selected to play so that is a big part of the game.
Aldo – We have a problem at nine, what are the contingency plans, should fourie du preez not be available come 2015? And you’ve been able to develop a lot of fine young players as a provincial coach. Does being an international coach help you to develop more young talent or prevent you from developing young players?
Coach: We are now in a position, with Fourie and Ruan out, that we simply have to bring through youngsters. Hougie was very good at Newlands, Cobus has improved a lot this season and we’ve also worked with Jano Vermaal, Piet van Zyl and Louis Schreuder, so there is a bit of depth.
I’d like to think the job of developing players should happen lower down, but we’re sometimes forced to do a lot of our own work on players as well, so I suppose you can say it’s a shared role at the moment in some instances.
Ollie – Heyneke, is there a plan to bring younger players through before the RWC next year, particularly in the front row where Jannie, Bismark and Beast seem to be showing signs of fatigue? And what do the statistics say about our kick & chase game against the AB’s? Whenever we run the ball with intention of breaking the gain line (not Jean crashing it up) we seem to be dangerous and score (like the try last weekend), so what is the reason for not running it more against the AB’s?
Coach: Like I said earlier, we want to run with the ball and score tries – we know we can do it if the situation allows it, but we also take the conditions into consideration and sometimes you don’t have a choice but to kick for territory.
I get very upset if the guys don’t kick with a plan and that should always be to get the ball back – something the All Blacks do very well. They’ve outkicked us in all five matches since 2012 so we have to get better in that regard.
Then, looking at developing youngsters, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that we have brought through a couple of youngers upfront, such as Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Frans Malherbe and Marcel van der Merwe.
Hooker is a bit more different because I believe that, in Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Schalk Brits we have the three best hookers in the world. Scarra Ntubeni is now back from his injury problems and I’m interested to see how he goes.
Welshbok die Brandwag – With the worldcup being in England next year going strongly into Autumn, your team is more likely than not going to play in cold slow muddy very wet conditions. Is our 1st choice front row (Beast, Bismrk and Jannie)suitable for those conditions? And What is your idea with the omission of Heinrich Brussouw who is a specialist fetcher? Surely we need a specialist who can play towards the ball on the ground when facing the likes of Warburton (Wales) and Pockock (Aus), who continually caused us damage in the previous World Cup. We support you as a coach, you’ve done very good work for the boks, thanks for keeping us proud as supporters.
Coach:Thanks for the kind works Welshbok. I think our pack has proved in the last two seasons they know how to play in Northern Hemisphere conditions and I’m confident in the guys we have for next year. They are experienced and can adapt to any conditions.
Regarding the flank position – I’ve worked with Heinrich and you have to remember that he’s had a fair share of injury problems in the last couple of years. In the same breath, we have in Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee two brilliant opensiders who are world class, but we also want other players to be able to steal, where Adriaan, Bismarck and Duane play a massive role, but also backs such as Jan Serfontein and JP Pietersen.
Americano – Hi Coach Meyer, Just wanted to hip you to the fact that state-side you & Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux are considered celebrities & the “Bees Knees”. Question….How has your incorporation of Messerschmitt-Willie & watching him play changed the way you coach – even in a nuanced way? Have you gleaned any drills that you’ve noticed about his situational awareness, his passing or his use of space? Thanks Coach Meyer. It’s a hoot for me to ask a question to you as I think you are “the tip of the arrow” in terms of global rugby innovation.
Coach: Thanks for the vouch of confidence there Americano, it’s much appreciated. Willie is a special player and we want to enable him to play the position as much as possible as he sees it. He’s worked very hard on his tactical awareness and has always had that X-factor, so if we can get him to work his magic in the right areas of the field, great things will happen.
Cab – What is the reason for picking the older guys like Victor, Jacque and Schalk?
Coach: Hi Cab – I think you would’ve seen the value they add on the field in the last 30 minutes against Australia at Newlands. But what you won’t see, is the value they add off the field, working with the youngsters, helping them improve and teaching them the tricks of the trade which you can only learn through years of experience.
I’ll never pick a player if I don’t think he can add some form of value to our team and these guys have done that in abundance.
OutWide – Heyneke, congratulations on the team selected and Springboks performance in Wellington last week. That defensive display was awesome with the Boks having to make twice as many tackles as the AB’s.
Firstly the media have reported you as being impressed by size and that you would not consider dynamic players such as Whitely “because they are too small”. Instead we have seen 120 kg players like Willem Alberts amongst the loose forwards. Yet last Saturday we had a great mix of loosies in Flo, Coetzee and Vermuelen, with Whitely coming on to good effect to replace Louw when injured. That is a great set of loosies and more in line with the highly mobile AB loose forwards who are all in the 105 – 112kg range. Have you changed your approach and gone for mobility rather than bulk?
My Second Question, that Hendricks try from Pollards reverse pass was as good as McCaw’s try and shows that the team can take the initiative. The Boks have been accused in the past of kicking away possession and waiting for the opponents to make mistakes in their half which may have happened given the tackle count last Saturday but are we going to see more attack from the side given the appearance of more adventurous players such as le Roux and Pollard?
Coach: Thanks Outwide…I’ll answer then separately. 1) Mobility and bulk are both very important and with the way the game is being played at the moment and the amount of time the ball is in play, it’s all about having guys that is conditioned to play a lot more rugby in 80 minutes than was the case a number of years ago.
In the balance of the loose trio, there always has to be cover for 6 and 8, which makes guys like Schalk Burger and Warren Whiteley great to have involved as they can literally cover any position in the back row.
Then for 2) Yes, always…if the situation allows. That move was worked out a while ago and it was almost the first time we were in a position to execute it. As I’ve said, we want to play with ball in hand and score tries – our attacking play is very important.
Jacques(Bunny) – You have been in the hot seat for 3 years, have you achieve your goals which you set out when you started and what were those goals?
Coach: Thanks Jacques for the support. My main goals are to make a difference in the lives of people and to make our country proud – it’s a continuous thing for me, so I can’t really say if I’ve achieved them. But I have seen the way people react to the Springboks and that makes me very proud, but also very humble to be in the position I’m in at the moment.
Thank you coach for taking the time to answer our questions we are behind you all the way.