Meyer snubs Brüssow again

2014-06-02 13:06
Heinrich Brüssow (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's treatment of Cheetahs loose forward Heinrich Brüssow amounts to a slap in the face.

Many were surprised two weeks ago to learn of Brüssow's inclusion in Meyer's preliminary 36-man Springbok squad: was Meyer finally making a U-turn on his anti-Brüssow stance?

Was Meyer finally acknowledging Brüssow's fine performance in Super Rugby and giving him a fair crack at the No 6 jersey?

Meyer had in the past offered up a litany of reasons for excluding the nuggety openside flank from the Springbok team, including suggestions that the Cheetahs forward's penalty count was too high, ironic when you consider his Springbok team received 13 cards last year for discipline-related offences and foul play.

Of course the real reason behind Meyer's well-documented preference of height and bulk is that taller and heftier forwards offer more in the set-pieces, an extra lineout option and added bulk in the scrum and rolling maul.

A technical coach like Meyer places a lot of emphasis on the set-piece, the very platform on which his considerable success at the Bulls was based.

Two weeks later and Meyer's rush to include Brüssow in the squad appears more like a rush of blood to the head.

Brüssow has subsequently been unceremoniously booted from the squad, one of only five players included in the initial squad, but cut from the final squad for reasons other than injury or suspension.

Of the four other players who didn't make the final 36-man cut for the Incoming Series, Marnitz Boshoff and Jacques du Plessis are uncapped and Trevor Nyakane still has the spectre of a disciplinary issue from last year hovering over him.

The fourth player was Bjorn Basson, who hasn't shone as brightly this year as he did last year after topping the Super Rugby try-scoring table in 2013.

It makes one wonder: why include Brüssow in the first place?

Could it be the Springbok coach was trying to avoid a banana peel?

Nick Mallett last week revealed on SuperSport he had wanted to include Brüssow in his World XV, however he was unable to select him when Meyer decided to call Brüssow into his 36-man squad.

"I was looking to get Brüssow in, but I think Heyneke heard about that, and selected him for the Bok team," Mallett joked.

If Brüssow had played for the World XV and put in the sort of performance against the Springboks that he routinely does for the Cheetahs in Super Rugby, it could have left Meyer with egg on his face.

Meyer's attitude towards Brüssow seems to be much the same as Jake White's view of fetchers: only useful for bringing a cold one to the couch.

The Bulls team's recent struggles at the breakdown in Super Rugby without a serious fetcher in their loose trio arsenal without the injured Deon Stegmann is evidence of the weakness of that philosophy.

The Springboks, on the other hand, already have a more than capable fetcher in the form of Francois Louw - however, if Louw is injured, the Boks have a real problem, as was evidenced by the team's match against Scotland in June last year, when Louw was released on nuptial leave and the Springboks put in their worst performance of the year.

If Meyer had the courage of his convictions he should have afforded Brüssow the opportunity to prove him wrong at Test level, by allowing him to play against the Springboks in a World XV team.

It's one thing to refuse to pick a player, but to then prevent that same player playing against your team seems a bit disingenuous.

Picking Brüssow and then dropping him from the Springbok squad is an even bigger snub than if he hadn't picked the player at all.

Changes to the final 36-man Springbok squad:


Bjorn Basson (Bulls)
Marnitz Boshoff (Lions)
Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs)
Jean de Villiers (Stormers) - INJURED
Jacques du Plessis (Bulls)
Frans Malherbe (Stormers) - INJURED
Trevor Nyakane (Cheetahs)
Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs) - SUSPENDED


Bakkies Botha (Toulon, France)
Schalk Brits (Saracens, England)
Bryan Habana (Toulon, France)
Zane Kirchner (Leinster, Ireland)
Francois Louw (Bath, England)
Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, Northern Ireland)
Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse, France)
Morné Steyn (Stade Francais, France)


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