No place for new blood

Fri, 26 Oct 2012 07:56
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Those hoping to see some fresh faces on Sunday when Heyneke Meyer reveals his Bok squad, to tour Europe next month, are likely to be disappointed.

Those hoping to see some fresh faces on Sunday when Heyneke Meyer reveals his Bok squad, to tour Europe next month, are likely to be disappointed.

There is a perception that the traditional year-end tour to Europe should be used as an opportunity for young players who have impressed through the year to gain some experience, but the chances of that happening this year are very slim.

From the outset Meyer made it clear that he will pick what he believes is the best available side for every Test that the Springboks play.

His view is that the international arena is not the place to develop players, and it is one he has repeatedly expressed throughout the year.

Although the Boks have been hit hard by injury, and would have been disappointed with their Rugby Championship campaign, there is already a serious lack of experience in the squad, and to throw a few Currie Cup rookies into a completely new environment would be looking for trouble.

Whilst this might be viewed as short-sighted, this tour could not actually be more important in the long-term.

Those who believe that Meyer should pick his squad with an eye on the 2015 World Cup have it spot on, but that does not mean he should pick a new side filled with young stars, in fact quite the opposite.

The seeding for the next World Cup closes in early December this year, so the Boks' main mission in Europe will be to ensure that they end their tour ahead of the Wallabies in the world rankings, which would mean a more favourable draw in 2015.

With that in mind Meyer will rely on the core of players that have served him all year, and hope to gain more fluency by making a few key adjustments rather than blooding the next generation.

Whilst players like Cobus Reinach and Raymond Rhule have had outstanding Currie Cups, they will need to get a full Super Rugby campaign under their belts before they challenge for higher honours as it would be counter-productive to heap that sort of responsibility on them in conditions they are unfamiliar with.

In the last few weeks Patrick Lambie has shown that not only is he an accomplished flyhalf, but he is also ideally suited to Meyer's mantra of attacking the gainline relentlessly.

Another player who surely cannot be ignored is Keegan Daniel who has made something of a statement with his Currie Cup performances and given his versatility would be a valuable asset in Europe.

But these are players that have been in Meyer's squad and are familiar with his vision and methods.

So while there might be a few new players in the squad to cover for injuries, this is not the time for Meyer to overhaul everything he has done up to this point.

The Bok coach has not had the experience of winning a Test away from home yet, and given the significance of these three Tests to end the year he will surely look to build on the foundations that have already been laid.

By Michael de Vries