‘Meyer was a little naive’

Six former Springboks give their take on the effectiveness of Heyneke Meyer's substitutions in the Test against the Wallabies in Brisbane.

Ollie le Roux (former Bok prop)

'Heyneke was a little naive in the way he used his bench. The Du Plessis brothers [Bismarck and Jannie] should have played much longer. Bissie could have gone the full 80 minutes. Our reserves didn't have any impact on the match, whereas Australia's substitutions injected more urgency into the game. But it's a blessing in disguise for the coach, now he knows pre-planned substitutions don't always work, especially when the players in the starting team are dominating the opposition. I hope he doesn't make the same mistake at the World Cup where closing out games will be crucial.'

Garry Pagel (former Bok prop)

'Our substitutions were made at the completely wrong time. You don't change the front row when you have a defending scrum, surely that's common knowledge. I don't agree with this norm of premeditated substitutions. The coach has to sum up the match situation and use the reserves accordingly. It's not necessary to clear out the bench. Yes it's important to give the majority of the squad a run before the World Cup, but the team needs confidence and the Boks won't have much after that defeat. It's like we played two different games in that Test and the same thing happened on the end-of-year tour in 2014. It's become a worrying trend with the Boks.'

John Allan (former Bok hooker)

'I don't think the Boks lost because of the unnecessary substitutions, but because they reverted to a conservative, kicking game plan in the second half. In saying that, Meyer did miss a trick when he took off Bismarck, Jannie and Beast. They answered their critics in the best way possible and that's very reassuring. It's easy to blame our replacements for their shortcomings in those final 20 minutes, but perhaps Australia just utilised their bench better than we did on the day. Bar the insignificant result, Meyer got what he wanted out of that match. Lood de Jager did well at No 5 lock as did Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende in midfield. The Boks are shaping up nicely for the World Cup.'

Adriaan Richter (former Bok No 8)

'Other than the substitution of Bismarck, which shouldn't have happened unless he was injured, I understand why Meyer gave the other blokes game time. It's important to test his combinations now as it'll take a squad effort for them to win the World Cup, not just 15 brilliant players. They [the reserves] didn't do too well, but it's not on the coach. South Africa became too defensive as the game progressed and that swung the Test in Australia's favour. No team can win by sitting back in defence, hoping the opposition won't crack the wall.'

Krynauw Otto (former Bok lock)

'Meyer wouldn't have rung the changes without a good reason, but unfortunately the risk he took backfired. I imagine it was worth it because of the limited number of Tests scheduled against quality opposition before the World Cup. Every player in the group deserves a fair chance before the final 31-man squad is announced and it's refreshing to see Meyer recognising it's his responsibility to provide fringe players with those opportunities even if it means he has to face the wrath of the public in the process. The Rugby Championship is not important, everything revolves around the World Cup, but I hope we beat the All Blacks on Saturday.'

Werner Swanepoel (former Bok scrumhalf)

'Meyer made a number of wrong calls against Australia. He got the timing of the substitutions all wrong and I'm sure he had a hand in the turnaround from attacking to defensive rugby. Our kicking game wasn't up to standard and Israel Folau was having a field day at the back, yet our players persisted to kick aimlessly. Bismarck was immense on Saturday and performed as a fourth loose forward, while Ruan Pienaar also had an excellent game. Both of them should've finished the match. Their replacements were found wanting. We'll be in trouble if our best players are taken off the park against the All Blacks. I know certain players need game time before the trip to England, but they can get a run against Argentina, not against the Wallabies and All Blacks. We need confidence, and it won't come with defeats against our two fiercest rivals.'

Interviews by Mariette Adams

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Mariette Adams