Morne Steyn’s indifferent performance against the All Blacks has increased the pressure on Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to start Johan Goosen at flyhalf.
Steyn’s goal-kicking has been erratic all year, and his innacuracy off the tee in Dunedin on Saturday effectively cost the Boks a game they should have won, having put the world champions under significant pressure.
Meyer admitted that in hindsight it would have been a better idea to give the kicking duties to one of the other capable backline players in the team, but explained that he opted to place his faith in Steyn’s ability to bounce back.
“Sitting here afterwards it is easy to make calls but it is a life and death situation for me and maybe I made the wrong call but Morne usually comes back and kicks well.
“Frans Steyn is a great goal-kicker and Ruan Pienaar can kick as well. You don’t just take a guy off for his goal-kicking,” he said.
Steyn is one of the most prolific kickers in Springbok history but has come in for heavy criticism this year for his lack of attacking flair, and his unconvincing display in Dunedin has even more people convinced that his time as Springbok flyhalf is past.
The emergence of Goosen has added fuel to that belief, as the young Cheetahs flyhalf undeniably offers a lot more as playmaker than Steyn who has played just about every game this year and is clealry feeling the pressure both physically and mentally.
Meyer said that whilst there is no doubt that Goosen represents the future, he was not keen to throw him in the deep end by starting him against the All Blacks, especially as he has only recently returned from a long-term injury.
“I have always said that I am going to bring Johan Goosen through and give him game time.
“But Johan had struggled with his goal-kicking in training during the week and he is still only 20 years old and he hasn’t played for almost three months. I thought he did superbly for the 25 minutes he was on the field,” he said.
Goosen plays much closer to the gainline, which suits Meyer’s confrontational style perfectly, and has shown the ability to create attacking opportunities on top of his highly accurate goal-kicking which makes him an excellent option to replace Steyn.
Meyer is trying to phase Goosen into the highest level, and has confirmed his confidence in Steyn, but admitted that he has some big decisions to make before the Boks’ next game against Australia in two weeks time.
“I’ve always rated Johan Goosen. I watched him play as a youngster and it is a pity he got injured because he was always part of my plans but I don’t want to throw him to the wolves so last week it was 10 minutes, this week it was 25 minutes. He is a guy with a lot of character and mental toughness.
“But Morne has also shown in the past that he has mental toughness so it is great to have two flyhalves like that. It’s great that Johan is coming through. I will look at the video, take the emotion out of it and maybe make a few hard calls,” he said.
With the Springboks’ hopes of winning the Rugby Championship now gone the last two Tests on home soil present a great opportunity to give Goosen his first start as keeping faith with Steyn would be merely delaying the inevitable.
The Bulls stalwart’s confidence would have taken a serious beating on Saturday, and as much as Goosen’s career needs to be managed carefully it is surely the right time for the young star to claim the No.10 jersey which he is set to dominate in the future.