What does Meyer expect from his halfbacks?
November 18, 2012, 13:26:29
I would like to go into Meyer's hsitory a bit and ask whether members have any opinion as to he above question and can provide an honest answer. I frankly do not have a comprehensive answer as to the above - since what Meyer said about his game plan is diamtrically different from what is happening - so I would like an answer from the honourable members of this Board.
When Meyer was coach of the Blue Bulls he had four key players that performed for him in Super 12 and those four kept the Blue Bulls in strong contention for the Super Series trophy. The players concerned were Mattield, Bakkies Botha, Foiurie Du Preez and Morne Steyn. Du Preez or Steyn would keep on kicking the ball downfield and the role of the other two was to keep winning line-outs - also on the throw-ins of the opposition. Matfield confirmed that in his biography. However,since the direct kicking out of balls outside of the 22 was not allowed - the dynamic changed and the gains made were not really all that signiificant. There would be endless discussions on that topic and the effectie countering of the plan and it is not really appropriate in this case. What impact it is having is whether that key element is still integral to the game plan of Meyer as Springbok coach.
After he became coach - Meyer's selection of Morne Steyn and Hougaard - who took over from Du Preez as scrummie) was a foregone conclusion. However, early in the seson it became evident that the kicking game of both was in jeopardy and the backline functioning was problematic. When questoioned by the media on that issue - he admitted that there were problems and that he would thrpough coaching get rid of the kicking problems of the two players. He purely dealt with the kicking prolems - nothing else.
The kicking problems of Hougaard got worse as the tests succeeded one another and despite the coaching he evidently received he was moved to play at wing. Now lets deal with the scrummie issue first. When Hougaard came on board replacing Fourie Du Preez - Meyer was not coaching th Bulls anymore and Hougaard relished the games he played for the Bulls. Kicking was never part of his game and I think was foreign to his natural instincts in playing the game. He really flopped in the kicking Department and was replaced by Pienaar. After waching Pienaar playing for years and lately for Ulster - he never really was a kicking scrummie. He was good in that Department when defensive kicking was required - but never really as a kicking in attack situation. Since he became the Springbok scrummie it seems as if his whole game changed and he kicked away balls regularly - in some respects much more accurately than Hougaard did - but a lot of aimless and ineffective kicking on his part is in evidence.
In the case of Morne Steyn it took longer for Meyer to temporrily got rid of Morne Steyn. Not only the goal kicking - but also strategic kicking became a nightmare - again despite the obvious coaching he received in the relevant regard. The final bell rang at the Dunedin test and Steyn was dropped at flyhalf.
It was first of all the turn of Goosen to take over. In the Australia test he did a very food job and kicking became less relevant. However, in the All Black test he suddenly became unsure of himself and seemed to be nervous. After his relatively early injury - he was replaced by jantjies - who played a horrible game .- he got the ball once and made an atrocious directly into touuch kick costing the Springboks many meters of lost space - and then stopped kicking altogether - but that was really meaningless - since he only received the ball a further 3 times in forty minutes - for the rest he was cut out and the ball was not passed to him. The question that arises is - why was Goosen so unsure about what he had to do - when a week earlier he played a very good game?
Before Lambie was ultinately selected Meyer said that he was unhappy with the Lambie kicking game and for that reason would not utlize Lambie as Springbok flyhalf. Goosen was ultimately succeeded by Lambie (after Meyer said that he was more satisfied by the kicking game of Lambie in the subseequent CC games. However, in the Irish and Scottish tests there was no evidence of Lambie playing his natural game - he kicked balls away constantly - even in cases where a backline move was obviously a requirement. This was completely contrary to his normal style of play and it leaves a serious question mark as to what is really the reasons for the change.
In my opinion it is contrary to the playing stykles and instincts of Goosen and Lambie to become kicking robots. If that really is a requirement of Meyer - then he must stick to the standing deep in the pocket Steyn and Jantjies. Both would do better in kicking than Goosen and Lambie.
Realizing that under some conditions kicking is part of the game of any successful team - my question remains - what instructions are given by Meyer to the halfbacks as to playing of the game in general and sthe kicking strategy in particular. I may be negative on the issue - but am looking forward to your comments and points of view on it. .