At 16.00 today (Sunday 15 April), Heyneke Meyer is set to release the names of his support team, but there may be a surprise in store……
It has been well documented that Heyneke Meyer wants to use the services of his ex-Bulls playmates, Johann van Graan, John McFarland, Ricardo Loubscher en Basil Carzis. For this privilege, he has asked the powers that be at SARU to advance this months pocket money to the tune of about R3,5 million so that can pop down to the local Bull-ders Warehouse to purchase them.
It is rumoured that the Bulls are willing to release the 4 musketeers, but they don’t come cheap. Apparently they would like, R1,5 million each for van Graan and McFarland, and R250 000 for Loubscher and Carziz. After a bit of haggling, it seems that the Bulls have got their way, and Meyer will be announcing his team today.
It is also widely known that Meyer has wanted to use the services of Matfield as a line out specialist for the upcoming test series. It now seems, according to JJ Harmse, writing in the Rapport, that Meyer is attempting to drag Matfield kicking and screaming, out of retirement for the 3 matches to not only play, but to captain the side too.
Added to this, he has said that the overseas players will be legible too, so that players like Du Preez, Rossouw, Steenkamp and Frans Steyn may join the fray.
I have no problem with that last part, if, the players deserve their place, but Matfield? Come on, please.
The man may be the greatest lock to have ever played the game, and he may be a genius in that position, and he may be a man mountain, but he retired after the world cup for heavens sake. He may well be fit – apparently he still runs with the Bulls during training sessions, but if he hasn’t played any competition rugby since the World Cup, and he won’t be playing any either, before the test series, how can he possibly be expected to play at his very best. What a daft idea. What of match fitness and match sharpness? They don’t come from the practice field – or rather from the side of the field, telling others what to do! Don’t kid me and tell me that anyone can just come in from the cold and play the way he was prior to his departure. He will be pushing nearly a year out of the game by the time the series comes round. Look how rusty the current players were coming into the season, and how long it took some of them to shake off some of that rustiness. By all means use him as a specialist – there probably isn’t anyone better, but please, not in the team. Trust me Mr Meyer, Matfield will be ridiculed by all and sundry if he plays again – the naysayers will be just waiting to pounce.
We have a wrath of locks that could, and should take his place, and these guys are the future. We have great leadership potential for a captain – Du Preez, Spies, de Villiers, Burger (if fit), Strauss, etc.
So, my final word, Mr Meyer, let the man be, don’t let him live with ghosts for the rest of his life. Use him wisely in the specialist role, and trust yourself that you can put together a team that can take on the world with out having to resort to the museum relics.
And to Mr Matfield, you were the greatest lock ever to play for South Africa in my humble opinion, please, please, don’t change that.