Tank Lanning

So conservative from Meyer

2014-06-05 09:57
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
So Frans Steyn is missing cartilage in his knee - a condition that will need to see his workload managed carefully for the rest of his career ... yet on Saturday the national coach is going to make him play 80 minutes at inside centre against a World XV side in a match that does not come with Test caps.

This while Juan de Jongh, S'bura Sithole, JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein watch on from outside the 23, and the likes of Johann Sadie, Paul Jordaan and even Rayno Benjamin watch on from outside the greater 36-man squad ...

Yet given this fairly extensive list of available centres, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer still sees the need to move JP Pietersen, outstanding at wing for the Boks for so long, to outside centre in order to give the only debutant, Cornal Hendricks, a run on the wing?

Of all the exciting young talent in South Africa, and players who have stuck up their hands in this year’s Super Rugby, Hendricks from the bottom of the log Cheetahs is the only player to have caught the coach’s eye?

Jannie du Plessis has started every single Super Rugby game this year, yet here he is again, starting for the Boks in this exhibition game, together with the misfiring project that sees Coenie Oosthuizen as his backup at tighthead. Why not give the man a break and let Marcel van der Merwe, who was brilliant for the Bulls in a rare start against the Lions, have a run?

The same could be said for Beast Mtawarira, who is also massively overplayed. And with so much loosehead talent in the country, why are we calling up Gurthro Steenkamp from France as Beast’s backup?

Why not give Trevor Nyakane or Morne Mellett a run with Beast on the bench?

Schalk Burger is being held together by Elastoplast, could not play for the Stormers last weekend because of injury, has chosen to spend his off season earning Yen rather than resting, yet there he is, benching for the Boks in the first game of the season. If Oupa Mohoje is next in line, why not give him a run? Or what about Warren Whiteley, Boom Prinsloo or Nizaam Carr, who will all be biting into tjoppie number 3 round the braai come kick off on Saturday given that they could not even make the 36 man squad?

Why are we so conservative?

I think it’s because of that damn “playbook” that Meyer holds so dear, selecting players who know the book and the calls, rather than the best players available. Perhaps we are selecting the players who can play a certain way, rather than the best players in the country?

For me it is about trusting the conveyer belt of talent coming through ... Instead of seeing the loss of a first choice player to injury or foreign currency as a mortal body blow, see it as an opportunity to give the next in line a chance to shine.

Be it Gert Smal, their position on the log, or the fact that they have no other choice, but the Stormers’ mid-season revival seems to have coincided with doing exactly this.

Next in line players like Ruan Botha, Alistair Vermaak, Stephan Coetzee, Sti Sithole, Martin Dreyer, Jean Kleyn and Dylon Frylinck have been given a chance, and not only survived, but in some cases, shone!

A reason they have lost so much talent in the past is because instead of doing exactly this, they have tended to look elsewhere and pay big money for journeyman stop-gap players, or massive money for Toulon type players. That money could have been better spent on keeping home grown players on the conveyer belt, but only if both coaches and players trust in the process.

Any Bok side selected would have too much in the tank for the end of season fun loving World XV to handle, but would it really have mattered if the Boks had lost, while at the same time building their squad depth?

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    springboks  |  tank lanning  |  rugby
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