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Meyer’s World Cup bench men

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 7 Nov 2013 at 10:59
Tagged with : , , , , ,

They may be guaranteed starters for the Sharks in their favoured positions – and may both be genuine game changers of proven pedigree – but as far as Heyneke Meyer is concerned, neither Pat Lambie nor Pieter-Steph du Toit is seemingly good enough as anything other than a “utility player”, at this stage.

As the so-called “plan” continues to be revealed, I am once again baffled by the inconsistency and mixed messages being sent. Du Toit, after setting the world alight in his first senior season as a 4-lock, was touted by the Bok coach as “potentially the best number 5 in the world”, or words to that effect, yet despite a number of opportunities to do so, Meyer has steadfastly refused to give him any game time in that position. Clearly the coach wasn’t watching du Toit mastermind a Currie Cup Final triumph over Western Province based in no small part on line-out dominance; line-outs which du Toit called and ran, in concert with the Bok hooker.

Now again we are told that the young man must still develop into a top class 5 – yet it seems he’s to do that by playing 4 off the bench. Can you please make up your mind, Mr Meyer, about exactly what sort of lock you want Pieter-Steph to be? To me, at any rate, he messages are very garbled at this point.

The situation with Lambie is even more vexing – it seems that every time he is selected to the Bok squad, he is given different advice. First he was a fullback, then he was a flyhalf, then he was benched for what seems like three years, then he couldn’t be picked at flyhalf because the Sharks had used him at fullback for two games, then he got to play flyhalf and put in three very good performances, only to be benched again for another year, before being selected as starting fullback. The latest nugget of wisdom is that Lambie will be developed as a “utility player” ahead of the next World Cup, which is a nice way of saying that Meyer intends to keep him on the bench while he continues to develop his pet project, Johan Goosen, as replacement for Morne Steyn in the pivot position.

The hypocrisy of this situation is what kills me. Meyer tells Lambie he can’t play flyhalf for the Boks if he isn’t clear first-choice in that position for the Sharks. Now that he is winning games for the Sharks as clear first-choice flyhalf, he’s shifted to fullback for the national side. So what then happens when Lambie returns to the Sharks? Is he expected to play fullback – and fullback only – to retain his Bok starting spot? Because I can almost guarantee that come next year, Lambie will again find himself on the bench because he hasn’t been used in Super Rugby in precisely the way that Meyer’s vague guidance would have suggested he should be.


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