On the Brink: What is Meyer thinking?

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 15:03
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EXCLUSIVE: World Cup winner Rob Brink returns after a long absence, giving us his view on Heyneke Meyer's possible World Cup selections.

Based on what has transpired between the end of the year tour, Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship, the injuries and Meyer's selection decisions, no one should really give the Boks a realistic chance of winning the 2015 World Cup.

It's hard to know what Meyer is thinking, and it's a great pity he hasn't been consistent with his selections so close to a World Cup, the injury crisis aside.

An example, outside of the Patrick Lambie versus Handré Pollard yoyo sage is the centre combination scenario.

He selects a centre combination that performs well against the All Blacks and Australia and then in a moment of 'wisdom' decides to break up a new pairing and he moves Kriel to the wing.

What he should have done was say: 'Okay, we might have something here, so let them get another game together [only their third] and we back them. Jean can wait for now, as I know what I have in him'.

Let's be realistic, there's no ways Jean is going to get both his pace and lateral movement (stepping) back in the space of eight months after such a horrendous injury. Is he really going to start with him?

Jean is a superb Springbok and it's sad that he can't go into this World Cup at his best, but such is the way of Rugby Union and injuries.

So, don't go breaking up a new combination that is showing signs of promise, please!

Some time ago he decided to back his old players (Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, etc), just like Pieter de Villiers did prior to the 2011 World Cup.

I don't necessarily agree with his sentimental decision in regards to some of the players, but the decision was made and he has to persevere with his decision, which one has to accept.

The veterans are hardly not going to perform in the pool stages, but it's when the knock-out stages commences that their form (or lack thereof) will be tested and at that point it might just be all too late.

There's a leadership dynamic in the squad and it's clear that at this point he can't make any fundamental changes and in so doing at least he isn't faced with another Gary Teichmann-Bobby Skinstad scenario.  

Fourie Du Preez, if playing well (and at all for that matter) has to start, but his knee doesn't seem to be ready yet. So that's not looking promising.

I'm a big Du Preez fan, and think he will be able to find form in the pool stages if his knee holds up.

Matfield I really wouldn't have convinced to come out of retirement, because at his age his strength is no longer evident. Having said that, his last game against Argentina was actually quite good I thought, so maybe there is method in true believer's madness after all.

Some might think I'm mad but there has to be a spot for Frans Steyn and I'd play him at No.15, with Le Roux on the bench.

My Springbok World Cup squad:
No.15: Frans Steyn and Willie le Roux
No.14: JP Pietersen and Cornal Hendricks
No.13: Jesse Kriel and Jaque Fourie
No.12: Damian de Allende and Jan Serfontein/Jean de Villiers
No.11: Bryan Habana and Lwazi Mvovo
No.10: Patrick Lambie and Handré Pollard/Morné Steyn
No.9: Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar
No.8: Schalk Burger/Duane Vermeulen   
No.7: Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee
No.6: Willem Alberts and Siya Kolisi
No.5: Lodewyk de Jager and Victor Matfield
No.4: Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit
No.3: Jannie du Plessis and Frans Malherbe
No.2: Bismarck Du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss
No.1: Tendai Mtawarira and Stephen Kitshoff

I don't think they could realistically reappoint Heyneke Meyer as springbok coach, regardless of his unrivalled enthusiasm in the coaches box.

The only way he will really be seriously considered for another term is if he wins the World Cup.

With that said, he surely must not give a fiddle for political pressure and pick whomever he believe is best in that position/combination and take whatever contract addendum he has or doesn't have and leave it in Pretoria and not take it to the World Cup.  

He doesn't have the luxury of a green and gold team as we did in 1995, because of lack of game time of his established players - so he has no choice now but to  chose his  A team and play them in just about every game, This will enable them to get match fitness and find one another again.

The one advantage is that they know one another and the synergy will soon re-establish itself.

So maybe we are ranked fourth in the world at the moment and our chances are slim.

However, what we are good at is playing cup rugby - as we have the game plan and personnel to execute.

If the veterans somehow miraculously find form in the pool phase and new guys (De Allende/Kriel/ De Jager) continue to keep form, I still think we have an outside chance of winning this World Cup, albeit a slim one.

* Robby Brink, a member of the victorious 1995 Springbok World Cup squad, is a the former Western Province and Stormers loose forward, who also had a stint with Irish province Ulster.

He writes exclusively for @rugby365com