Buenos Aires - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has given Cheetahs prop Trevor Nyakane a lifeline to save his international career after Nyakane was dropped from the squad to tour Argentina on Sunday because of breaching team protocol.
A disappointed Meyer said he was hopeful that Nyakane would return to the national team but will need to sort out his discipline issues first.
After consulting with members of his management and senior officials within the South African Rugby Union, Meyer decided to leave Nyakane behind in South Africa after the 24-year-old prop had committed a string of transgressions in the past two weeks.
Nyakane, who apparently has breached team protocol at the Cheetahs on several occasions, first missed a flight from Bloemfontein to Johannesburg two weeks ago, then overslept and arrived 15 minutes late at a team video session, was horribly unfit when the Springboks assembled in Johannesburg and lastly failed to arrive on time to leave with the team for the airport on Sunday.
Meyer dropped Nyakane from the Springbok team that beat Argentina last Saturday because of last week’s incidents but was willing to take him on tour until Sunday’s incident which included not arriving back in time with a sponsor’s car.
While being hard and standing by his decision to drop Nyakane, Meyer insisted that Nyakane still had a future with the Springboks but would have to prove himself.
“No, definitely not (end of his Springbok career). I am very big on discipline and there is a team culture we set together. Trevor was late in arriving in Johannesburg and I said to him that it was unacceptable. And then he was late for the video session and I said to him that it was the last time. After our team meeting on Sunday I told him I would take him with to Argentina but because of his disciplinary reasons he will not play.
“But I really believe in him; he is a youngster and is a great team guy. I also told him that he needs to look after his discipline otherwise he can’t play for South Africa and that I can’t make exceptions and then he missed the flight. I have to set an example especially with young players coming through.
“The great thing about this team is that we haven’t had any off-field incidents up until now. I’ve always believed that if you aren’t disciplined off the field then you cannot be disciplined on it. What is good for one player is good for the rest. He is a quality player and he accepted it and he says he knows he stuffed up and he will work hard to come back.
“There are no grudges there. I still believe he is a great player with a great future. But I believe that if I keep on making exceptions then he won’t learn from this. I’ve done that in the past when I’ve helped players but it wasn’t to their benefit. He will definitely be back but he needs to learn from it and the rest of the team. It is a clear-cut message and the whole team know where they stand and I won’t tolerate ill-discipline on and off the field,” a calm Meyer said from the team hotel in Buenos Aires on Monday.
Last year, Meyer dropped Bulls prop Dean Greyling for having been given a yellow card for striking All Black captain Richie McCaw with his forearm in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand in Dunedin.
Meyer cited Greyling’s indiscretion as well and continuously emphasised that his players must remain discipline at all times, but also kept the door open for rehabilitated offenders to return back into the team.
“I’m not cross with him and it is not going to count against him for the rest of his life.
“I’m looking at is what he does off the field, training wise and his behavioural patterns but he’ll come back. I’ve done it with a lot of players in the past, I’ve done it with Bakkies Botha and with Victor Matfield and they learnt from that and became brilliant Springboks. So this is not an exception, I know what I stand for and I can’t budge on that.
“I am disappointed because I would understand if I didn’t speak to him. Every guy should look after his own discipline and I believe if you make an exception then the team will question where they stand. I’ve always been strict on discipline and won’t step down from that,” added Meyer.
Meyer also won’t step down on how he wants his team to play for the remainder of the competition saying that they will need to improve on Saturday’s 73-13 drubbing of Argen-tina and consistently win away from home if they are to be crowned champions in October.
Fortunately for the Springboks, team doctor Craig Roberts has given them a clean bill of health ahead of their return Test against Argentina in Mendoza on Saturday.