Meyer opts for consistency against Samoa
Heyneke Meyer has opted for consistency rather than experimenting for this weekend’s test against Samoa. Before the start of the series Meyer indicated that he wanted to give as many players as possible a chance to play. He reiterated this right after the Italy test.
Meyer gas however made a 180 degree u-turn on this. The only changes made to the side that played against Italy has been forced changes due to injury and players returning from injury. This breads familiarity with in the side. That linked with the winning culture that is being created can only spell good things for the future.
The core of the current side has played in all 14 tests Meyer has been in charge of the Springboks. With just over two years to go till the 2015 World Cup in England, most of these players should be in the squad. Some of the current squad might not be there either due to injury or age, but most will go. This means that Meyer can now start building experience and bring in youngsters as required without to much disruption to the continuity of the side.
If the senior players are managed correctly, guys like Jean de Villiers, Morne steyn and Bryan Habana should still be able to take the team to the World Cup. Meyer must just not fall into the trap of selecting players on their “name” and past performances, but on merit and because they are the best. So far this season he has done just that.
The biggest question at the moment is: “Who will take over as captain from Jean de Villiers?” The thing is we should realise that De Villiers will probably not play in a starting role come the World Cup. He will be 34 going on 35 and for a back that is older than usual. Currently that will leave Francois Louw, Adriaan Strauss, Pierre Spies and Arno Botha has a chance if he gains a bit more experience.
For now it will be Strauss if De Villiers is not able to take the field against Samoa. With Habana as Vice-Captain.
Meyer must take care to select his best 23 players and then pick the captain from them, rather than pick the best captain and then 22 additional players. We all saw how that effected relations between Bismarck and Peter de Villiers as well as John Smith. For now it seems as if Meyer has got the formula right.
follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter