Heyneke Meyer’s first year as Springbok coach is over. Having lost only 3 games out of 12 somehow makes it look better than how his real winning percentage reflects. Yes the two draws robbed him of a real satisfactory start, in fact one of the best starts of any recent coach.

We now suddenly find more positive articles in the media. The 16-15 win against England not only changed the whole perception of Heyneke Meyer in our minds, but it also seems to have changed some of the more experienced rugby scribes in this country’s minds regarding how they now perceive Heyneke Meyer. Here is some excerpts from 3 articles yesterday by Jacques van der Westhuizen, – “Boks’ three out of three aint bad”, Zelim Nel, – “New Zealand looms large in Boks’ sights” and Gavin Rich – with “Boks’ will flourish in 2013″

Jacques van der Westhuizen:

There will of course be those who’ll moan and groan and have some or other issue with the Springboks. In a country as passionate as ours when it comes to national sports teams it’s inevitable someone, somewhere, isn’t going to be happy.


Gavin Rich:

What is certain though is that Meyer is definitely “still here”, and in the end a tough opening year for him ended with a credit balance and some breathing space as he now finally gets a chance to do some proper planning.

Meyer hasn’t always got it right this year, and he has been criticised in this column when he has made mistakes. But he, more than any other Bok coach before him, was chasing his tail from the moment he took up the position.


Zelim Nel:

The Boks climbed two places in the world rankings during Meyer’s first season, losing three of 12 Tests to finish second only to the rampant All Blacks.

It’s an impressive record considering the mammoth rebuilding task that faced whoever came in after Peter de Villiers, and it’s made all the more remarkable considering that 11 of the 20 most experienced players ever to represent South Africa were unavailable due to injury, overseas club duty or retirement at the end of last year.


Jacques van der Westhuizen:

“Sure, the Boks haven’t set the rugby world talking because of their attacking play, but I’d like to agree with Jean de Villiers and say there is no team in the game right now who can defend as well as the Boks do. And let’s not forget, because so many people do, or, rather, choose to ignore, a very important fact about rugby (or football for that matter): generally, possession of the ball is split 50/50 … which means you spend 50percent of the duration of every game defending, which is as important, if not more important, than attacking. Because if you kick your goals and keep the opposition out, no matter how much attacking they do, you’ll win more often than you lose … the Boks now proving as much”


Gavin Rich:

Meyer started off the season openly confessing that the Boks would be ultra-conservative initially as his lack of preparation time with them meant the approach would have to be as basic as possible.

But those who accuse Meyer of confining his players to boxes and not giving them licence to make their own decisions should be as heartened as I was at the words of Patrick Lambie when interviewed by a colleague for a Sunday newspaper article this past week.

According to Lambie, Meyer wasn’t just saying it when he told the media that he had instructed the flyhalf to play his own game and bring out more of his attacking skills – he had actually done it.

Meyer apparently had a similar conversation with Johan Goosen when he was selected to wear the No 10 in the home leg of the Castle Rugby Championship.

There were times in the Castle Rugby Championship season when the Boks appeared to struggle through having the wrong personnel, but Meyer got that right subsequently. He has selected Goosen and told him to play to his attacking strengths, and he has done the same with Lambie.

Those are big positives and work against the popular conception of Meyer as too conservative and set in his ways.

With top players set to return in 2013, my money says next year won’t just be about survival, it will be when the Boks start to flourish.


Zelim Nel:


Bismarck du Plessis: The established first-choice hooker in the country, he was always going to be central to any plans for the future in the wake of John Smit’s retirement.

Meyer will have lost some colour in his face when the Sharks hooker went down with a season-ending knee injury five minutes into the Rugby Championship-opener at Newlands, but Adriaan Strauss answered the call, and then some.

The Cheetahs rake took a little time to warm up, but he finished the season in rampaging form. Meyer will no doubt use Strauss as a cattle-prodder to get the most out of fit-again Du Plessis in every Test going forward.


Juandré Kruger: To a lesser degree, Kruger proved that there is indeed life after Victor Matfield (retired) and Andries Bekker (injured).

The Bulls lock is no world-beater, but he’s a hard-working overachiever with a real hunger to play for the Boks.

He will also push Bekker for a starting berth and challenge the Stormers jumper for the important responsibility of managing South Africa’s lineout.


Eben Etzebeth: While not quite the adamantine enforcer that Bakkies Botha was, he nonetheless convinced rival teams that the Boks have a wild-eyed lunatic, intent on relieving them of the use of their limbs.


Francois Louw: The influence of Stormers defence expert Jacques Nienaber was a saving grace for Meyer’s team this year. The Super 15 loose forward combination of Francois Louw and Duane Vermeulen added the finishing touches to the Bok defensive wall.

Recalled from English club side Bath, former Stormers fetcher Louw and Currie Cup-winning No 8 Vermeulen tag-teamed any and all ball-carriers who were foolish enough to wander into their precinct.


Zane Kirchner: Much-maligned, the Bulls fullback emerged the unsung hero of the season. Weekend-warriors chastised him for “not attacking enough”, but it was Kirchner’s bankable return kicks, kick-receipt and even his kick-chase that kept South Africa at the right end of the field.



Tighthead prop: Jannie du Plessis was duly praised for his resilience this year, but he is – at best – an adequate scrummager and the Boks desperately need a cornerstone tighthead if they are to challenge New Zealand at the set piece.

World-class tightheads don’t grow on trees, but Meyer missed a trick when he overlooked Munster’s No 3 during the tour of Europe.

BJ Botha, 32, may subtract from the sum as a negligible ball-carrier and a vertically-challenged lifter at the lineout (1.82m tall), but he’s an immoveable object at scrum-time.

The Bok coach is holding thumbs that Coenie Oosthuizen makes a full recovery from injury to continue his recalibration as a tighthead prop.


Scrumhalf: It was by default that Ruan Pienaar succeeded World Cup-winning Fourie du Preez (playing in Japan) this year.

Kamikaze halfback Francois Hougaard crashed out of contention when it became clear his kicking game wasn’t up to scratch and the Boks made stop-start progress as a result of Pienaar’s inconsistent play.

Hougaard’s plea to be viewed as a specialist No 9 should be heeded and though it may be far too early to enter his name into the debate, young Sharks halfback Cobus Reinach has all the physical attributes required of a Test scrumhalf.


Flyhalf: As expected, flashy Pat Lambie failed to launch in the Test arena.

His whimsical style of play may go down well at King’s Park – where the powerful Sharks pack offers momentum on tap – but the Boks need a No 10 who doesn’t waft in and out of the game.

Morné Steyn remains the best option to start until Johan Goosen can match him in the territory game, or until a youngster like Bulls pivot Louis Fouche steps up.


Centre: Jaque Fourie isn’t coming back from Japanese club duty any time soon and Meyer consequently needs to find a big-bodied challenger to pull Frans Steyn out of his comfort zone.

Juan de Jongh was largely anonymous on the year-end tour and that’s because his skill-set isn’t suited to the Boks’ blueprint.

If heart was measured in kilograms De Jongh would be an ideal option. However, listed at a generous 88 kilograms, the elusive Stormers centre isn’t going to give Steyn any sleepless nights.

Rookie Jaco Taute is too raw to meet the defensive requirements at outside centre, but perhaps the return to fitness and form of Bulls flyer Bjorn Basson could see JP Pietersen – in red-hot form this year – line up in the midfield, outside of skipper Jean de Villiers.

24 Responses to After the dust settled in 2012

  • 1

    It seems that most articles became more positive, after all the record is not bad and the Boks NEVER played a New Zealand type of game with success. Go Heynecke you will have some great players next year to bolster your team.

    Still hope though that you bolster your coaching staff too.

  • 2

    I have been critical of Meyer this year, and continue to be so, given a win record of 7 out of 12. Yes we drew 2 games, but some could argue that we were lucky to do just that, and similarly the victories against Ireland and England were marginal and if the opposing kickers were on form it could have gone a different way.

    With that in mind I give Heyneke a pass mark but with some serious concerns around positional choices, as covered very well in the article above.

    I hope that 2013 is a growth year for the Boks, the Super Rugby season will hopefully give some further answers on player development in certain positions, such as Pat Cilliers move to the Stormers, where he has the opportunity to impose himself in a pack that was dominating most last year. Elton will similarly get his chance to shine in a team that is likely to win a fair amount of games next year, in contrast to the dismal record of the Lions. I believe that both these players can become Springbok regulars, but it is up to them to force the coach to pick them through their play.

    I also think that the 13 position is still a thorny issue, my own preference for De Jong notwithstanding. HM prefers his 13 to be a large, imposing defensive giant who can hit rucks and effect turnovers as well as chase high kicks down. Flair seems to be a secondary consideration in that position. The only guy who fits that position still playing rugby in SA ironically, is Zane Kirschner. Yes, I know, but think about it. He’s probably a better fit that Jaco Taute as he does the things that matter to Heyneke better and effects a great deal of turnovers, far more than his position may suggest. Other than him there is the JPP option but I’m not convinced. I think he is a great 14 and struggled at 13 for the Sharks in the first half of the year, being one of the major culprits in the tackles missed department. That concerns me in his case. In any event it looks like JDV will continue at 13, Frans Steyn being fit enough to play 12 of course. Not the best combo in my opinion, but we’ll have to wait and see.

    Vermeulen: well he isn’t Pierre Spies as runners go, but man oh man he gets stuck in there and really made a difference in the tight stuff, as he does when playing for the Stormers. Those who criticized him initially must at least now have a grudging respect for his work rate and uncompromising style.

    I don’t personally feel Lambie is the answer at 10. He is a good player, great even, but I remain convinced at his performance at international level. I know that will bring out strong response from the Sharks contingent, but I feel that he is not there yet. This year will hopefully see him play the whole season at 10 for the Sharks and it will be up to him to convince Heyneke that he is the permanent answer at 10. I suspect that he will be shown up by Elton this year though.

    We’ll have to see.

    As is the case each year, the Bok team will be heavily influenced by who is healthy and fit come the internationals and my biggest hope is that Meyer has the widest range of options open to him to choose the team that he wants, as he is the man that carries the can, so to speak. If we are to hold him accountable to the results we have to let him have control over the process.

    For now my attention turns to the pre-season preparations of the respective Super Rugby franchises, and my Stormers in particular. Here’s hoping for a winning year from my manne!!!

  • 3

    Sorry cant agree, another lets bash certain players, and when quoting the coach, quote him completely, because the self same coach is quoted as saying Lambie for example was absolutely brilliant, I accept the Article is the view of a persons personal choice.

    The Statistics however show how wrong the article is re young Lambie, it also does not show the fact that the coaches chat with Lambie was only done just before the England test.

    So although a lot of good points are made, there still are those prejudiced in favour of one we like or don’t like as a player, something I guess we are all guilty of.

    However 1 thing is for sure? if MOrne Steyn was still the best option?? he would have been in the starting lineup, we all know HM does not bend to Supporter or press squeeling, thus many selections by him which had the people up in arms.

    Lambie might have been told to play his natural game, but if anyone thinks The conditions, the referreing etc allowed for running open rugby ?? then you surely in lala land.

    I will give you 3 simple facts, and this will show out poor defense by some in the team, it will show you game plan which does not allow for a 10 to control the game and of course if you forwards correctly or incorrectly get blown out of a game, it matters not who your 10 is, add to that poor slow passes etc etc etc.

    The stats show Lambie to have made 18 tackles, only 21 each by Flouw and EE had more, The closest back to tackles made was JDV with 9?? SO your flyhalf had to made double the amount of tackles to any other back???? Let us take Naas Botha as an example??? In his day and we know the BUlls played the whole forwards power game, he hardly tackled at all, something supporters used to give him a lot of stick for?? not so?????

    So you expect the Lambie to cover poor defense by his team mates and still play this complete game?? and trust me Goosen will never have made half these tackles ITS A FACT.

    2nd thing is Rucks attended, DV attended 8 which was the most, 2nd most was Lambie and ZK on 7 each, Again you have you 10 having to do the Job of other players.???

    Lambie is accused of kicking everything away?? funny stats show 7 kicks, 232 m gained and of those 7 3 kicks were little chip kicks to get behind the defense, we all saw JPP gather one of those kicks.

    My point here is people like to make assumptions, they like to over look facts and the of course if I don’t like the player I will never give that person a fair rating.

    Another player who never gets any favorable reports is JAnnie Du PLessis, and of course he like any players has his good or bad, I mean he never makes team of the week etc etc etc, Yet we see whenever he leaves the field of play when substituted out pack struggles,

  • 4

    Firstly I will not do the same as some and bash bash players from another union to hype up my own player, and for me, I will repeat, MS still has a lot to offer SA rugby.

    Does MS believe it? not sure as per reports of him wanting to go play in France??? it think he either knows his days are over?? or he is playing the coach?? or it is simply lets make some money before it is over, rugby career is only so long.

  • 5

    In your own words??


    “Sure, the Boks haven’t set the rugby world talking because of their attacking play, but I’d like to agree with Jean de Villiers and say there is no team in the game right now who can defend as well as the Boks do. And let’s not forget, because so many people do, or, rather, choose to ignore, a very important fact about rugby (or football for that matter): generally, possession of the ball is split 50/50 … which means you spend 50percent of the duration of every game defending, which is as important, if not more important, than attacking. Because if you kick your goals and keep the opposition out, no matter how much attacking they do, you’ll win more often than you lose … the Boks now proving as much”

    And given the stats that supports what I have seen in my previous post? how come you still want to try tell us the flyhalf is not the right one??

    Fortunately HM as coach has realized who is the best 10 and gave credit where it is due and also admitted he was wrong, Kudo’s to him

  • 6

    3 @ Sharks_forever:

    Excellent post. Agree totally.

    One thing that goes over MANY supporters heads is the fact that Lambie covers his channel (and other players) as well brilliantly. He has to be right now our best fh that can TACKLE, his defence is world class. Some underestimate how important that is. How many players came though his channel? He made 18 tackles in the England game, the only other players that made more were Eben and Flo both had 21. Now for a little fella he punches well above his weight there, for now he is our best tackler out of the backs and that says something. He is so underestimated by some, NO trying to convince any here, the only person that does not need convincing it seems is the person that counts. Meyer, he thought Pat was brilliant in the wet. Only his views count for now. Some forget those condtions are tough to play in. Also how many of the other flyhalves would have got all their goal kicks over, in the wet conditions? Not only wet but a huge swirling wind? My feeling none if we go by the other games this year. All the other fhs this year missed their kicks in perfect condtions (Dunedin where the roof was closed = no wind or wet), not sure which fh would have played better in the WET swirling wind conditions, probably none. Who would have performed better with Ruan there? NONE.

    Lambie scored all our points and because of that we won. People are forgetting that. Had he missed just one we would have lost. Also let us not forget the little kick that yes, never came off well, but it still got us into a very good part of the field where we got a penalty to get the lineout, then eventually from there we got the try. Had he not tried that little kick we would not have been in that part of the field to start with. Also I doubt the other fhs in those conditions would have that the calmness to get all their kicks over in those conditions. Some forget that the best fhs in the world have a HUGE BMT about them. You can’t train that, either a player has it or not. Pat has bucket loads of it. He would always be my flyhalf because of it. Like Meyer said the very thing he liked about Pat was his bmt. He never panics.

    Just pleased he plays for the Sharks where we appreciate him. Can’t wait to see him play next year with Frans Steyn next to him with a decent scrumhalf with Reinach or Mcleod. Bring on Super Rugby.

  • 7

    @ Puma:

    Correct Pooms and good morning bro, See what the stats show is Lambie did not really have a chance to play or dictate play to much, Forwards were being outplayed and blown out the game, MIssed tackles by some meant the Flyhalf had to cover for them.

    For me it’s a matter of some just refuse to admit to the facts and then bash a player who is either not from the team they support or not the player they favor.

    this is why I did that article where I stated HM should get more patience from us, Maybe he does want a more expansive game plan, and with time he will get there, he has a lot of new players and only with time and continued playing together will their understanding for each others play come together.

  • 8

    It will be interesting to see how the 3 big unions play their backlines next year

    We know the probable Sharks backline


    with plenty of back up quality, Whitehead, Butch, Mcleod, Hoffman, Viljoen, Bosman, Prinsloo, Sithole, Heimer Williams, Odwa, just to name some.

    Wp as we know have gained Jantjes and Taute and with the backline players they have will they go expansive?? it will be very interesting.

    Blue Bulls is the sought of unknown factor, and just maybe we are in for a surprise

    I reckon the youngsters that have purchased like their centers and Pollard and mapoe, these guys could have a brilliant running rugby backline, much is going to depend on coaching.

  • 9

    7 @ Sharks_forever:

    Howzit bro,

    Yip you right think some just like to bash a player because he does not play for their team or not their favourite player. We are just too Provincial here it seems.

    Agree watched that game again as you only see it better watching after. The forwards let the whole team down if they not pulling their weight. We got it so right in the first test against England in the 2nd half and again in the 2nd test in the first half. I have both games still on my pvr will watch them later when I have time. Our forwards also got it right in Dunedin. For some reason I must have deleted that game pity as I don’t have it still on. This game our scrums were not going well, then the ref also had a lot to do with it, doubt it was all Jannie’s fault. This ref actually ruined the game I thought. Cilliers was good when he came on, or at the break we could have spoken to the ref as well. One thing I noticed too we are still taking way too long to get to the breakdowns. We need to get there at pace, think that too made Ruans life a bit difficult there, then it filters down to the backs.

    The team will get better and I am sure the game plan will be looked at next year, sure we will still play to our strengths but surely Meyer will have to bring in some consultant backline coach to help out? Really don’t think this backline coach is up to much. Carlos Spencer I would bring him in for a few weeks. Think he lives here now in SA.

    We will have Fransie, Bissie and Beast back for next year too. Plus Habs who always looks for work. Though thought Hougaard was okay this game. Zane was solid as usual at the back, but still think we need another fullback. Need to see how Taute goes for Stormers as think Meyer has him marked for that position at some stage. He should also look at Coetzee from the Lions and Ludik.

    For now can’t wait for Super Rugby.

  • 10

    8 @ Sharks_forever:
    That is a great backline. Think Stormers and Bulls have as well though. Will be interesting to see if Stormers play a more expansive game next year. Think they will and so will Bulls. Stormers with Elton will be far better also they will work on his defence, which I think is lacking in his game. They have the best defence coach there. So expect Elton’s defence to be good next year. Taute at the back should had some pace, then I thought Joe was very good for them in the CC final. Not great against us in the Semi in SR though.

    Cheetahs too have a good backline, very good I think.

    For our Sharks think we going to miss Bissie huge at the start. He will only be back end of April I think. That is a huge part of Super Rugby gone already. Hope Burden or Cooper steps up this time. Though Burden in the Super Rugby was actually quite good when Bissie was out injured. Think in the CC he was away too long with the Boks to just come back and gel for the CC final. He is better than what he displayed there. We going to be playing without a fetcher, not sure if that is a good thing, the reason we will miss Bissie. Wonder where Alberts will play? 4 lock or blindside flank? Remember Kanko is back from the start of Super Rugby this time.

  • 11

    8 @ Sharks_forever:
    Looking forward to see how Reinach goes in Super Rugby. He had a really good CC though fell short in the Final, where I thought McLeod played better when he came on. Though Reinach will grow with more game time he gets. Another player I am looking forward to seeing how they go is PSDT as well as Van der Merwe. Know what Van der Merwe brought to the Lions will be good to see him doing the same for Sharks.

  • 12

    @ Puma:
    Yeah Pooms, Must say I still worry about our front row options, Cooper needs to seriously look at this lineout throwing, rest of his game is good, same can be said of Burden.

    Thing is Bismark is the fire in the belly of the Sharks pack, we missed him big time in the final.
    Also I know Whitehead has done very well, but I reckon Fransie inbetween Jordaan and Lambie is going to make a big difference

  • 13

    12 @ Sharks_forever:
    This year we were without Beast and it was a huge loss as we saw how much he brought when he started to play. Now next year we will be without Bissie and I think he is even a bigger loss. Also we don’t have a fetcher, unless Deysel starts, then liked our loosies we had towards the end of the Super Rugby. No fetcher just bloody fast to the breakdowns made all the difference. Burden and Cooper for me is just not in the same standard as Bissie. BOTH will have to work on their throw-ins. Have to admit that is the only weak point with Bissie sometimes as well, his throw-ins. Not really worried about our lineouts with our jumpers, with Kanko, PSDT and Van der Merwe there, just our hookers have to throw in perfect.

    Fransie next to Lambie is going to be something to watch especially with Jordaan on the outside. JPP also in this tour was one of our top players. What a brilliant player he has been for us, with that backline we sorted bro. Now hope no injuries to Beast because Chadwick is just not up to that standard either. Such a pity we could get the Lions LH to come on loan. Would be a brilliant cover for Beast. Rate JC highly.

  • 14

    @ Puma:
    Look it’s a long season so much will depend on player rotation, also Plum will have to try find 2 great combinations in each position also of course depending who you are playing against, Now my biggest worry is Prop and lock, we have locks that are tough etc, we don’t have that no5 lock that wins opposition ball on their throw ins.

    Kanko does though, and also as cant afford to have only 1 capt, Daniel should not be playing in every match because he is capt, we need to play loose trios as needed in a game plan.

    I know it is going to be very hard for plam, I am just hop[ing he gets most of the calls right.

  • 15

    14 @ Sharks_forever:
    The answer would always to be having 2 equally good players in each position. In some we do have but not all. So it will depend on which games we can rest our best and play the others I suppose.

    We have a problem at prop and 5 lock for sure. Bresler had done very well last year. Such a underrated player. He was outstanding for us in the past SR. Alberts done well in the Lineouts for the Boks against England. Then Strauss was throwing in. Just have to see how it goes because our lineouts have been a problem all year until Kanko started and it was AGAIN in the final of the CC. Can’t expect to go far if we have those problems again next year.

    With the players we have there who would your first choice 4 lock be? Also would you play Alberts at lock or blindside flank?

  • 16

    14 @ Sharks_forever:
    You right with Keegan, he surely can’t play every game next year. Think he played every game this year as did Bresler.

    Another player I am looking forward to us having is Butch. Some may smirk at that, but he is still a superb flyhalf to have. Tell you what had the Lions played Butch at flyhalf in their semi think they might have won there. Elton never played well in that semi, where as Butch the previous week was outstanding. He is a good replacement if anything happens to Lambie next year like it did this year. Also need to rotate Lambie sometimes as the season is long. So I am pleased we have Butch back home at the Tank.

  • 17

    @ Puma:

    Correct Pooms, another thing that I feel is badly needed in the sharks setup is a mind coach, lol our mental preps are not always as they should be.

  • 18

    17 @ Sharks_forever:

    That is something we DO need is a mind coach. Think we should be working with the eye coach (Calder) as well. Our Hooker should be at least, as it is all eye co-ordination there as well with the throwing in.

  • 19

    17 @ Sharks_forever:
    Go look at the Promotion Relegation dates for the Lions games. It clashes with the Super Rugby semi and final dates. What happens then if we need Van der Merwe? As those players have to be back with the Lions for those games as stated.

  • 20

    @ Puma:
    As far as I know, the loan agreement is only for the league stages of Super Rugby. Loan players will be required to return to the Lions 2 weeks before the play offs. An unlikely but possible scenario could be either Stormers or Sharks end last in SA conference, and the Lions loan players could end up playing against the team they were loaned to. As I said, highly unlikey, but it remains a possibility.

  • 21

    20 @ Lion4ever:

    Thanks mate for clearing that up. That was something I had talked about on the other site with another blogger. Thought the players would be available until end of Super Rugby and the Promotion games would come after. I got it wrong. At least we only have Van der Merwe the Stormers have Elton and Taute. Not sure who Bulls have. I only know of Mapoe going there, think they have another player though. Forget the player that went to Kings, then he will for sure have to play for Lions against the Kings in the Relegation game.

  • 22

    Think the Bulls have Callie Visagie. Great player, but really struggles to find his jumpers. Maku and Murray have signed with the Kings

  • 23

    22 @ Lion4ever:

    So Maku and Murray have left and not on loan. Both very good players. Butch too think his contract expired with the Lions end of this year. He is back with the Sharks. Always rated Butch and he is a brilliant back up for Lambie.

    Kings might be better than I am expecting them to be. See they also have a kiwi as a backline coach.

  • 24

    Murray too injury prone. Was glad to have him, as he played some great rugby for us, and was regaining the form that made him a Springbok, but he spent more time on the injury list than on the field. Maku also a bit injury prone, but was not able to replicate the form that he had at the Bulls.

    Kings have some decent players, but no real star quality players. I still see record scores against them. I think all the Lions detractors will be crying for them to come back, as the Lions were at least competitive in the last 2 years even if they lost most of their games


Bam Advert

Bornman Graphic