Heyneke Meyer is a lost soul.
For a man known for his meticulous planning and obsession with detail, Meyer finds himself in a maze of uncertainty 38 days before the start of the World Cup in England.
At one of the Springbok camps earlier this year, Meyer said that he has slept in almost every bed where the team’s going to stay in the United Kingdom, and checked the weather patterns for the last 20 years of the venues where they are going to play. They even trained at Cape Town Stadium to get used to a football surface.
But, yet, his main priority of trying to assemble the best possible team for the rugby showpiece has been a bit of a disaster. And with only one match to go before the World Cup, he finds himself at a crossroads.
Besides playing Jesse Kriel next to Damian de Allende at centre, and bringing Heinrich Brüssow back into the Boks mix, Meyer’s reluctance to pick players outside his core group backfired spectacularly this weekend when the Springboks lost to Argentina.
Because Meyer has basically played the same team over the last three Tests and lost those matches, the Boks have zero momentum going into the World Cup.
Meyer could have easily blooded a few more fringe players against Australia away and then play his preferred side against a New Zealand, and then maybe a mixture of the two against Argentina.
Now he may have to change his plans to take a second-string side to Argentina to play the Pumas, because they desperately need a win to boost the morale of the team and the disillusioned rugby public. The problem is, though, that the best team – at least the best one in Meyer’s mind – convincingly lost to the Pumas.
But besides the nightmare preparations going into the World Cup, Meyer is also copping a lot of flak for his treatment of black players in the Bok squad.
The likes of Elton Jantjies, Scarra Ntubeni, Siya Kolisi, Oupa Mohoje and Cornal Hendricks haven’t had a fair chance to show their mettle. And by doing that, the coach is busy alienating himself from a lot of Springbok supporters.
Jantjies, for example, was the probably the best South African flyhalf in Super Rugby, but he hasn’t even made the bench for the Boks this year. In New Zealand, Lima Sopoaga, steered the Highlanders to the Super Rugby title. He was then rewarded with a Test against the Springboks at Ellis Park and had a blinder, because he had the backing of coaching staff.
But you have to ask what role does the head of the selectors Peter Jooste or Saru president Oregan Hoskins play in terms of direction for the Springbok coach as far as transformation is concerned?
At the start of the year Saru announced that they want 50% black representation for the Boks in 2019. But yet, 20 years after Chester Williams was the sole black player in the Bok side at the 1995 World Cup, South Africa are poised to play at the World Cup with only Bryan Habana on the wing and a loosehead prop that was born in Zimbabwe if Saturday’s match is anything to go by.
Meyer’s only saving grace will be if he wins the World Cup, because he hasn’t won a Rugby Championship or helped to transform the Boks. His legacy depends on it.
There are 38 days left before the start of the tournament. And at this stage Meyer has to make every one of them count.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
@Davidcampese11: You can’t just turn up and play test rugby and think you are better then the other team. Tonight I think that’s what is happening.
WHO TO FOLLOW
@Jantjies_Elton: Maybe the kid will get a game in Argentina.
Follow John Goliath: @JohnGoliath82
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