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Still on target


It is easy to criticize and say what Meyer is not getting right at the moment, but has anyone sat back to consider what he is being quite successful in doing in only 7 tests?

When results don’t go your way it is very easy to focus on the negative, but like any team, or in the beginning of any era, it is essentially what you are building towards what counts.

I have written enough about the obvious challenges Heyneke faced when he was appointed such as the time that he had to prepare himself and the team (timing of the appointment) and who he had available to assist him in his role (assistant coaches).

Another obvious challenge he faced was the loss of experienced players, and there has been quite a few either through retirement or injury.

Some of the more obvious names that have moved on include John Smit, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez and Jaques Fourie and while the first 2 or 3 players may be past their prime, Du Preez and Fourie are still very much in a position to have contributed to Springbok rugby if only for their current age.

Other players earmarked by Meyer as individuals that he would like to play a part in his squad but also found themselves sidelined through injury include Schalk Burger and Juan Smith, and of course injuries during the international season to Chiliboy, Andries Bekker, Bismarck du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen, JP Pietersen and Pierre Spies did not help either.

While some might argue these names, or some of these names, no longer belong in a Springbok setup they are missing the point.  If you have to replace 9 or 10 players that formed the core of any team for such a long period, it presents a very real and very unique challenge.

But that is part of rugby, or as they say, shit happens – the coach needs to make a plan.

Well part of that plan would be to look at who he has brought through and how successful they have been.

In 7 tests, Meyer capped 10 players, quite a lot one might think but given the names listed above as those unavailable, not surprising.

The new caps include locks Eben Etzebeth and Juandre Kruger, props Coenie Oosthuizen and Pat Cilliers, loosies Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter, Tiaan Liebenberg, Johan Goosen and JJ Engelbrecht.

I also like to look at new caps as choices being forced onto a coach through mainly injury, and those identified as future stars or part of a plan.  Out of the lot I can only really identify Tiaan Liebenberg as an injury enforced cap given the unavailability of Chiliboy and Bismarck du Plessis.  Further, caps that ‘did not quite work out’ for Meyer can only really be identified as those of Jacques Potgieter and JJ Engelbrecht.

That means that 7 individuals Heyneke Meyer has introduced in 7 tests either carry the favour of the rugby public, or have exceeded expectations in their debut season – that is almost half a rugby team.

Meyer may well be copping some legitimate flack for certain selections and a questionable game plan, but no rugby coach has a magic wand.  One thing Meyer cannot be accused of is lack of trying things after losing 14 very experienced and key players either permanently or through injuries at various stages.

In fact, he seems to score more hits than misses in identifying a new core group of players to take South African rugby into a new, and hopefully very dominant era.

Leave a comment


  1. Good points Morne.

    I am thinking that with a few tweaks (Bismark back at 2, JP back at 14, Jaque Fourie at 13, Du Preez at 9 and someone like Taute or Le Roux at 15, Coenie and Strauss on the bench) this team can be very good.

  2. Bring Brussow and Schalla back into mix as well (I would drop Alberts to the bench as his impact is much bigger in the last 30 minutes or so).

  3. Not rating Skalla at the moment – despite Bok contract he must first show that he’s really better than current mix.

  4. Meyer is a good coach, I don’t question that for one second. We have the benefit of hindsight, where he has had to make decisions in the heat of the moment.

    Personally I have only questioned the selection of 2 players this year, and that was Werner Kruger and Jaques Potgieter, and lately the continued selection of the out of form Morne Steyn.

    I think a lot of people do agree that he is making good selections.

  5. Not very worried about the forwards –
    it’s the backs letting them down.
    Even though the forwards lost six
    :Rule 9:

  6. All good points Morne.

    Even the game plan has been one using the familiar players to play in a style familiar to them.

    As we said before, I’d wait till EOYT and see what happens.

  7. Agree for the most part… Heyneke did not miss the 14 PK’s nor butcher the two certain tries that drew two games against Arg and England and lost one against NZ.

    His only real folly was continuing giving Steyn the kicking duties when he had the in-form Heineken Cup kicking champion in his XV.

    Look at the smart money… the bookies… not one had the Boks to win neither the Aus nor NZ game… and they clearly know best… no surprises there.

    Cooper and Genia are now out… that is huge… I hope to see the same team (with another prop) against the Aussies but with RP taking the PK’s…

  8. Reply to Boertjie @ 4:27 pm:

    Actually I still am at the break-downs… the last game was more ‘gees’ than improvement in unity on own ball and opposition… and yes the LO’s were shocking… there is no variation without Spies…

  9. Have to agree, for the life of me I do not understand why Jean did not give the kicking duties to Ruan when he saw Morne was not in form on the day. To let him try four kicks at goal and miss is criminal. When the guy is clearly not striking the ball right, why heap even more pressure on him by continuing to demand he take the kicks at goal.

    Bit of a lack of on-field leadership from Jean, I feel. But then hearing Heyneke mention that he felt Morne might come right after halftime shows that it might have been coach’s orders?

  10. Nope Craven, dictator Meyer made it clear that HE (and ONLY he) decides who kick – captain on field has no say. And bryce, bookies obviously did not rate Boks due to their crap gameplan and flyhalve – or do you think they somehow ignore the obvious….

  11. It is true Meyer didn’t miss those kicks, but is is Meyer who keeps selecting an off form player.

    The butchered tries show that either the back line don’t have skills necessary for the international level or they are being poorly coached.

    The fact is those weren’t the first poor passes and play the back line made and in specific Jean de VIlliers.

    He did the same poor passing in the world cup against Oz (forward pass), he ran himself and Mvovo into the sideline only for AShley Cooper to tackle both of them, snuffing the certain try, he did the same against NZ on the weekend.

    Those were three matches we should have, could have won, yet Meyer keeps selecting Jean de Villiers, inspite of the proof that the man isn’t completing the final pass.

    Jean de Villiers ay be a great defensive organiser, but his attacking skills are being shown up.

    We led against OZ and we could have won the RWC QF and last weekend against NZ, but for poor kicking and poor execution by the same players every time.

  12. Reply to biltongbek @ 8:18 am:

    Lack of cohesion at the breakdowns by the entire 22 (still evident), zero ingenuity in backline plays (still evident) and the LACK of tactical kicking was what lost the 1/4 finals…

  13. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 8:45 am: Dead right Bryce. Worrying that the Boks have not advanced since that fateful game in Wellington nearly a year ago.

    Morne you raise some interesting points but we can hardly be expected to praise Meyer for blooding all these new players when at the same time one of the excuses for losing is that we have lost so many key players. The one follows naturally on the other surely? I suppose you can say that we should be grateful for small mercies and that at least he has dropped the idea of bringing back Matfield and duPreez?

    A reprieve for Meyer might be around the corner (short-term) as the Boks have 2 successive should win high altitude games at home, but nevertheless if all of the above applied to the All Blacks and they had a record like the Boks have, we would crucify the guy wouldn’t we?

  14. Personally I think the Boks are probably not playing to their potential with their conservative approach but there is no doubt that they can still cause problems with it.

    They could have very easily turned over the AB’s last weekend had it not been for poor goal kicking (granted some were pretty difficult). A few minor changes and the Boks could be a pretty fearsome team.

    I wrote a post on Meyer’s condundrum to stick or twist on my blog if anyone is interested in having a read. I would value any thoughts/ comments.


  15. I see a new coach and a work in progress

    …then I see normal South Africans who always knows better than the man who gets payed millions to do the job…..

    ….I also see that these same men in charge have the CV(which none of the so called experts have)to show they know what they are doing…..

    …..I also see supporters who is always can just complain after just a few matches in charge by a new coach….

    ….I can see the same happen when Jake was in charge as well as when Snor and Roelof came in.


    I choose to see that their is a man in charge that will give his everthing to make this team a success….

    …..I choose to believe that he has a plan as he had when nobody gave him a change in 2001 when the Bulls lost all their supershit matches…

    BUT that is just me

  16. if i want to hear the same kak
    pierpoepoldevilliers and
    the poepolle before him
    exception of mallet and white.

    The rules wont change for heyneke.
    Fuck his plan.
    or get of the fkn pot

  17. fkn losers.
    the buzz word champions.
    All talk.
    front up,physical,bodies on the lie
    yawn fkn yawn.
    If they could play
    like they talk
    theyd be world champions.

  18. Heyneke Meyer is becoming more and more like Peter de Villiers in the statements he is making. Although not as controversial or funny as PDivvy, Meyer is contradicting himself on a daily basis it seems. Add to that the little red herrings he throws in every now and then through talk of bringing back retired players. He sure is keeping things interesting.

    His latest little blunder, if I may call it that, is the whole Morne Steyn saga. On Saturday he says he made a mistake to keep Morne on the field as the place kicker this is just after the game in a media briefing. Tuesday on arrival in South Africa things have changed. Suddenly no one player is to blame, but the whole team should take the blame for the loss. Do understand me correctly, rugby is a team sport and a team wins or loses a game. One player can however have a huge impact on how a team performs.

    The last time I checked Morne lined up the kick and took the approach. He kicked the ball and missed. It wasn’t Beast who lined it up, Vermeulen that took the approach and Morne that kicked. Back when Morne kicked 30+ points to win a game for South Africa the credit for that kicking performance still went to him, not the team. Eben Etzebeth and Dean Greyling got punished for their actions, not the team. So if one player makes a mistake (Morne missed 4 kicks) he should take the blame. Equally so if a player, like Habana did, scores a brilliant indicidualistic try he gets the credit.

    On one thing I can agree with Meyer in his brief interview with eNuus on Teusday: the Springboks did pull off the game plan on Saturday. The team had the All Blacks on the back foot and were the better team on the field. Small errors by individuals cost them the came. Morne’s kicking, Jean’s pass to the crowd and Kirchner’s pass behind Habana.

    Remember when Meyer said he is a coach and not a picker of players? The next thing he did was change 4 players in the team. Again it is a contradiction of what he said. Meyer has the ability to become one of the best coaches South African Rugby has ever seen, but he needs to learn to be consistant and stick to what he says. He should also allow the players to think for themselves and play to a game plan, but also to the situations on the field.

    He might never come up with Pdivvy’s quotes but he is giving us enough to write and think about. My three favourite rugby quotes are:

    ” You get many types of kicks, penalty kicks, drop kicks & free kicks. That my boy however was a k@k kick.” – Dr Danie Craven. (Morne on Saturday had 4 of the latter).

    “A game of rugby is two halves of 40 minutes each. So we have 60 minutes to prove ourselves.” – Peter de Villiers

  19. I supported him when he wins
    if he cant
    get rid of him
    and get someone who can.
    Not the appies
    like heyneke and white
    get mallet

  20. ja Bunny.
    You are used to losing.
    you make excuses like
    a near miss
    growing team
    young team
    front up
    win or get off the fkn pot

  21. Nah Duiwel… if every coach that lost an away game against the world number 1’s and 2’s in their first year was immediately sacked you’d have to have a turnstile outside their head-quarters and a shit-load of money.

    Yes the breakdown play has been disappointing, yes the backline play unimaginative and error ridden and yes the missed PK’s the most costly of the bunch… but let’s give the guy at least a year’s lee-way with a new bunch of players that ‘might or might just not’ be all that the mug-punters sitting in their arm-chairs think they are.

    It’s not like he has inherited the most successful and experienced squad in Bok history (namely the 2007 RWC winners)…

  22. Owen Nkumane on Boots and all last night said somthing very true.

    It isn’t the losing, it is the fact that we expected something new.

  23. Reply to biltongbek @ 6:39 am:

    How true is that statement?

    Thing is, we keep hearing about how we have to rebuild due to losing certain great players, truth be told, last time out also playing in NZ with those exact same great players, we also lost a game we should have won.

    So it is not so much the players, what is it then? What is the common denominator? Could it be, heavens forbid, the same gameplan of playing towards our “strengths”?

    Naah, surely not…

  24. I would like to know if any of you have inside information on what HM plan was since he started. How do you know that he is not plannning to filter in the youngsters that you guys want so badly in the team. The same reason you do not know that I do not know that he did not plan it.

    The man was put in charge for the next 4 years, how do we know what that four year plan is? Everone esume that we know what he wants to do. The only true statement he did made is he will go out what he believe will win a match. If it is an ugly win or not.

    If I was playing the nr 1 and 2 in the world in my first year with these players I would also have gone with a simple gameplan that I believe in.

    I realy struggle to understand this hesteria after just 7 games in his term. And the two games we lost was away from home against the number 2 and 1 teams of world rugby. :shake:

  25. Reply to Jacques(Bunny)Morne Steyn is Baas @ 7:47 am:

    Then why does Heyneke not inform us what the plan is? WHy must it be a secret when he sees the dissatisfaction his his current way of doing it is sowing?

    Anyway, quote from the Baas (Morne Steyn):
    ‘I can improve a lot as an attacking flyhalf,’ Steyn said, before theorising about the root of his struggles. ‘When I arrived at the Bulls in 2003 I was more of an attacking flyhalf, but coach Heyneke Meyer explained to me that if I wanted to take the step up I needed to improve my tactical kicking game. ‘It’s the kicking that’s doing the job at the moment. The Bulls and Boks play more of a kicking than running game, so it required me to adjust accordingly. But having said that, my running game has suffered as a result. I know I have to grow that area of my game.’

    And now guys want to unleash his Heynekeness on poor Johan Goossen?:mrgreen:

  26. Let’s fire HM who the hell do we put in his place? Dumtree? Mitchel? Alister?

    He is the best coach we have to put their rigt now and we need to give him a change.

    It feels more that personal choices upon players is the real reason why so many are bitching.

    I do also not agree between certain players he have in the team to the once I believe should be their. One thing we know is that with every bok team chosen RSA will be able to put millions of different combanations together for our own teams.

  27. Reply to Craven @ 7:49 am: I understand your stand, but since we came back to international rugby which coach have exsplained his plan for his term. HM said he wajnts to make the BOk team a winning team. We all know that in international rugby experience and youth must be split. We do have a few senior players injured out of this team I wished that HM had no injuries when he started for I do believe he would have bring in the young stars in better.

    On Morne statement, yes 2003 that was maybe the best way for a Flyhalf to play, HM is not a poepol, I do not believe he will do the same with Goosen if he is now the number 10 in question.

    We must also understand that we are not the only team that use the kicking game, I believe our problem is more the combination between kicking and attacking with the correct kicking game. Stats are confirming my believe.

  28. Why the hell does Heyneke need to tell the rugby public what his plan is in any case?

    1. So every overseas coach knows exactly what to expect from his teams for four years?

    2. So every half wit wannabe pundit can either coo about it or criticize the crap out of him no matter what he does?

    Surely his history should tell you that this is a coach whose sole aim is winning and building (in his words and proven at the Bulls) a “dynasty”.

  29. Darren Scot was interviewing Jake White earlier in the week, and they discussed the situation of Heyneke Meyer and what his thoughts were about the whole process of being a Springbok coach.

    He made the following points.

    When a Springbok coach comes to the end of his term, he is merely dismissed and sent on his way, there is no transfer of experience regarding what worked, knowledge about the players or gameplan.

    There is no succession plan in place, he takes the example of the assistant coaches of the Boks, he couldn’t name one that has been appointed as head coach of the BOks, unlike what NZ did with Steve Hansen who was assistant to Graham Henry for 8 years. NZ plans continuity and every decision there is made in the interest of New Zealand rugby.

    In South Africa the opposite is true, no what happens is the “isolated” SA coach surrounds himself with people he trusts (not necessarily the best man for the job), but White beleives this is only natural to do.

    In turn by closing shop, you can only think for yourself the logic conclusion is that the head coach is then more in survival mode than wanting to be experimental and adventurous, as he might feel there is little or no back up from SARU.

    Now my question is this, how is it at all possible that SARU cannot use the experience and knowledge of the previous coach to hand over a little black book of important issues during his term, it is once again simply unbelievable to think we are this anal.

    So considering where Meyer might find himself “mentally” it is understandable that he reacts the way he does.

    But the negative thing about it all is he now has a coaching staff that thinks the way he does, there are no new ideas or someone looking at it from outside the box.

    And that ultimately will be another failing for SA.

    I simply cannot beleive how counter productive SARU is when it comes to the best interest of SA rugby.

  30. Reply to biltongbek @ 6:39 am:

    Something ‘NEW’?

    Like what… a sudden change to Cheetah’s 7’s style touch-rugby amongst the backs? Quade Cooper style no-look passes and attacks from flat-ball…

    Nup not this mug-punter… I was hoping for an improvement in results and more to the point getting the basics of Bok rugby back to par en-route to refining and adding a few extra dimensions… something that should have been done in 2008…

    That’s definitely been the more frustrating than expecting something ‘NEW’… but it’s still early days…

  31. Reply to biltongbek @ 8:10 am:

    Valid points… no doubt you’ve got Morne frothing at the mouth now…

    SARU are their… and the Bok’s worst enemy in this regard…

    They with the aid of politician’s backed JW into a corner until he had to give them the middle finger and head-off into the sunset with all his valuable knowledge… and then they appointed a buffoon and simply didn’t even value anything he had in terms of intellectual property… that accounts for the last decade of ‘transition’ between 3 coach’s (and their assistants)…

    And the Brumbies and the Irish have been the benefactors…

  32. Reply to biltongbek @ 8:21 am:

    You cannot add diddly-squat when the players aren’t hitting rucks properly as a team, are missing PK’s, losing their lineouts, getting yellows and fumbling balls on the try-lines…

  33. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 10:03 am: Yes, exactly, but it is all part of the “improvement” Owen Nkumane was talking about.

    It is about a better collective effort, it is about better execution, it is about more incisiveness with the backline, it is about standing flatter on attack.

  34. Better is only better when you win.
    You can’t lose in a better way.
    Unless you feel losing is good.
    :Boertjie GOM:

  35. Ja oom, maar om kak te wen is ok nie altyd goed nie, dit is dan net lucky.

    Dit is hoe ek gevoel het na 2009 se Tri Nations, heeltyd geweet ons was lucky met n paar van daai games, en die probleme in die spelpatroon was toe ook nie raakgesien nie.

    Nou dire jaar later, anner dag, selle kak.

  36. Reply to Jacques(Bunny)Morne Steyn is Baas @ 8:01 am:

    “We must also understand that we are not the only team that use the kicking game, I believe our problem is more the combination between kicking and attacking with the correct kicking game. Stats are confirming my believe.”

    Couldn’t agree more. It is the aimless, inaccurate kicking, or kicking when there seems to be other options available that is making me tear my hair out.

    If our kicks are executed with more accuracy and other options used when they are available, this team will look completely different and we will all laud Heyneke for the way the Boks are playing. But it is not working at the moment.

  37. Reply to Craven @ 12:00 pm: Totaly in agreement their. Is plan is failking at this stage and with other players he can correct it. Even with the kicking game of teh Bulls they are one of the teams that scored the most tries in Supershit rugby so if the one works the other aspect of the game gets together as well.

    HM is tsanding in fort of a cross road…..and the next few weeks although I believe Unfair will make or break his trust and believe with public.

    Sometime even he must go back one step to go forward three.

    I just really hope we do not break him as a coach because we have nothing to replace him if he show us the middle finger.

  38. I’m still extremely disappointed that HM did not bring in a Todd Louden type pro into his team… I mean a VC coach is just not even near cutting edge enough…

    In the past where he impressed me the most… was with his ability to surround himself with the best… much like what Jake White has done at the Brumbies…

  39. Nieu-Seeland bemark glo ‘n nuwe mampoer:
    Jy kan drink soveel as jy wil sonder dat
    dit jou skop.

  40. Bliksem, how many coaches with average to good results is it going to take before naysayers realise that the rugby is a professional, competitive sport. Athletes around the world work hard at being he best.

    You win some, you lose some. Some years are better than others. You’re building a team, you’re at the top of your game. Swings and roundabouts.

    The Boks are on a building phase, we are going to lose some games in the first period. Get used to it.

    :Ollie: boys

  41. Reply to Jacques(Bunny)Morne Steyn is Baas @ 12:45 pm:

    For sure, and even though at times it may seem otherwise when I vent my frustration on here, I want to Heyneke to succeed, because if he gets it right, the Boks will get it right, and if they get it right, we all win.

    I am prepared to give him a chance until he can field a team with all his first choice players included (bar those that have retired, they are gone).

    It is only fair to wait and see what a team with guys like Bismark, JP Pieterson, hopefully Jaque Fourie, maybe Fourie du Preez, Schalla, Juan Smith with a few exciting youngsters thrown in can accomplish under Heyneke’s watch.

  42. Eddie Jones was simply chucked by the Aussies in 2005.

    John Mitchell was simply chucked by the Kiwis

    Griz Wylie the same

    John Hart was chucked

    WP threw away Gert Smal and Carel Du Plessis

    Graham Henry is presently contracted to the UAR

    SCW was discarded

    Sorry but that happens not just with SARU but EVERYONE – have some perspective please folks…

  43. The Irish chucked their 2007 RWC coach after promising not to fire him…. who was he again? My memory fades… But the point is when one accuses SARU of dumbassery one needs to be consistent and that means EVERYONE needs to be brushed with the same paintbrush.

  44. I am but singling us as out as being stupid for those reasons is unfair when everyone is equally stupid. Like in an exam the whole class fails but only the kid the teacher hates gets a hiding.

    No doubt that kind of thing needs to come to an end though. We are losing immense experience from all our coaches. Hell Kitch Christie famously said that he would regularly ring up John Williams and Ian Mac to help him with tactics and idea and strategies.

    Just before his death he said none of Markgraaf, Carel or Mallett EVER asked him for anything…palpable stupidity… Kitch’s knowledge was lost forever.

  45. Reply to Craven @ 5:16 pm:

    I know… even if it’s just availability as a an advisory service the coach can use when he needs, I mean we all know the assistants are a sham… so give him access to good expertise… You know

    Ludeke was NZ trained
    Mitchell coached the AB’s
    Ackerman was a Bok lock
    The loss of Alistair Coetsee is a crying effing shame
    So too Gert Smal!
    Jake is coaching an Aussie side and PROBABLY in line to take Deans’ job…

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