South Africa

Meyer's year-end pass mark

Tue, 27 Nov 2012 07:15
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Our best seasons, 2009 and 2007, we lost more than we lost this year
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Their unbeaten year-end tour gave the Springboks a win percentage of 58 percent in 2012, leaving coach Heyneke Meyer satisfied given the circumstances.

In Meyer's first year in charge South Africa finished with seven wins, three losses and two draws from their 12 games. They bowed twice against world champions New Zealand and once to Australia, with the stalemates coming against England and Argentina.

The Bok coach pointed out that while it was disappointing to draw two Tests, this still ranks as one of the team's most succesful years ever.

"If you take the draws then it's 75 percent. Our best seasons, 2009 and 2007, we lost more than we lost this year," he said.

This was achieved under significant pressure as Meyer had to blood a number of young players whilst dealing with a heavy injury toll, and the coach believes that the experience gained by all in the set-up this year has been invaluable.

"There's a lot of youngsters Under-21, babies when you picked them. After a long year and a really long tour, suddenly those guys have become men, the (Eben) Etzebeths of the world, and Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie," he said.

On top of those challenges Meyer had very little time to work with the team thanks to the toughest playing schedule ever seen, but they still managed to move from number four to number two in the world which is the source of great encouragement for the coach.

"With a management team that started late, a lot of those guys were still in Super Rugby, the planning wasn't where it should be, and we've ended number two," he said.

However, despite the fighting qualities shown by his side Meyer has been under fire for the conservative approach the Springboks have adopted, with the focus on physical dominance.

Although the forward pack has developed into a consistently competitive unit, the Boks have lacked the creativity to make the most of their possession, with the backline's try-count worryingly low.

This has drawn criticism from those who would prefer to see the Boks play a more enterprising brand, but Meyer believes that the grinding nature of their victories in Europe was crucial to the team's long-term development, especially with the 2015 World Cup in mind.

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