Second Phase

Meyer's Bok window dressing

Wed, 29 Aug 2012 17:04
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Now is the time for Meyer to show that his team can adapt their game
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The Springboks' flat performance in Mendoza demanded decisive action from Heyneke Meyer, but despite the new faces how much will actually change?

The Boks' disappointing display against Argentina last week sparked a harsh reaction, with Meyer's team branded blunt and one-dimensional, so although he questioned the wisdom of a knee-jerk reaction the coach had to signal his intent to move the team in a new direction.

Having delayed the naming of his squad for the Australasian leg of their Rugby Championship campaign Meyer made that statement on Wednesday by calling up Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Johan Goosen and Juan de Jongh, at the expense of Keegan Daniel and JJ Engelbrecht who will be back in the Currie Cup mix this weekend.

The move to include a genuine openside flank in Louw will be a relief to those that have become frustrated at the Boks' lack of efficiency at the breakdown this year, while in Goosen and Vermeulen Meyer has roped in two talented players that fit his gameplan of gainline dominance perfectly, but how much of an impact will these three really have in Australasia?

Both Vermeulen and Goosen have only just returned to action from long-term injuries, and their inclusion in the squad has effectively robbed them of more valuable Currie Cup game-time this weekend, which means they face the prospect of making their Springbok debuts while still short of full fitness.

Louw's call-up may encourage those who could not fathom why Meyer fielded three blindside flanks against the Pumas last week, but the powerful Bath flank has only just completed the pre-season in England which makes his selection something of a gamble considering it effectively sidelines Daniel after a short trial at Test level.

The chances of any of the new players in the squad cracking the starting line-up for the Test against the Wallabies in Perth seem quite slim, as none of them are currently at full match fitness, so although their selection may release a bit of pressure on Meyer, his biggest moves will have to come on the training pitch.

The Springboks' direct style was exposed in Port Elizabeth and Mendoza by teams who got in their faces and disrupted their momentum in the collisions, and both the Wallabies and the All Blacks will have taken note as they prepare to take down the Green and Gold battering ram.

Australia and New Zealand play with far more width than England and Argentina, and taking them on away represents a massive challenge considering the Boks' current injury situation, but now is the time for Meyer to show that his team can adapt their game and show some mental strength.

Meyer made the point earlier in the week that wholesale changes to his squad would not necessarily yield better results, explaining that 'picking' is not coaching. He now has the opportunity to show what he has to offer as a coach at the highest level, and if his side shows progress against the top two sides in the world then that would go further towards silencing the critics than any token selection.

By Michael de Vries

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