Dunedin - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer admitted that he may have made a mistake in letting Morne Steyn retain the kicking duties despite succeeding with just one out of five shots at goal in South Africa’s 21-11 defeat in their Rugby Championship clash against New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.
Morne Steyn (Gallo Images)
According to the supersport.com website, the normally accurate pivot kicked one penalty but missed three other penalties and a conversion. Inside centre Frans Steyn also missed two long-range penalty attempts in the first halt which would have seen the tourists go to the break 18-5 up instead of reaching the break 5-3 down.
“Sitting here afterwards it is easy to make calls but it is a life and death situation for me and maybe I made the wrong call but Morne usually comes back and kicks well,” Meyer told a news conference after the match.
“Frans Steyn is a great goal-kicker and (scrumhalf) Ruan Pienaar can kick as well. You don’t just take a guy off for his goal-kicker. I’ve always said that I am going to bring Johan Goosen through and give him game time.
“But Johan had struggled with his goal-kicking in training during the week and he is still only 20-years-old and he hasn’t played for almost three months. I thought he did superbly for the 25 minutes he was on the field.
“But we could have changed the goal-kicker. We talked about it at half-time. I thought Morne would find his rhythm,” he explained.
Morne Steyn was eventually substituted in the 59th minute for the young tyro Goosen who missed one kick at goal before nailing a 45-metre effort.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers said that the decision to replace Morne Steyn as the designated kicker had been discussed at half-time but the decision was made to give the flyhalf one more chance.
Morne Steyn then missed his attempted conversion of Bryan Habana’s try in the 49th minute.
“I don’t think that I am the one to give advice about goal kicking. We discussed it at half-time and we felt that we might want to give Ruan an opportunity but we thought to give Morne one more chance. He had one when we scored the try and he went off after that,” said De Villiers.
“You want to show confidence in your players as well and sometimes you have to make those difficult decisions. You make mistakes, I make mistakes. Unfortunately he couldn’t kick all of his goals but that doesn’t make him a bad player,” he explained.
Meyer said that he saw Goosen as South Africa’s potential first-choice flyhalf but that he did not want to rush the youngster while Morne Steyn was still part of his plans.
“I’ve always rated Johan Goosen. I watched him play as a youngster and it is a pity he got injured because he was always part of my plans but I don’t want to throw him to the wolves so last week it was 10 minutes, this week it was 25 minutes. He is a guy with a lot of character and mental toughness.
“But Morne has also shown in the past that he has mental toughness so it is great to have two flyhalves like that. It’s great that Johan is coming through. I will look at the video, take the emotion out of it and maybe make a few hard calls,” he said.
HAVE YOUR SAY: Have we seen the last of Morne Steyn in the Green and Gold, or should Heyneke Meyer hang on to his experience? Send your thoughts to Sport24.