Four ex-Springboks on whether Heyneke Meyer should be given a contract extension.
Adrian Jacobs (former Bok centre)
‘The Springboks need a new coach. I also feel that the demographics of the team must change. It’s been 15-20 years now and there still hasn’t been enough change. You cannot only have JP Pietersen and Bryan Habana [and Beast Mtawarira] in your World Cup starting lineup, specifically in the quarter-final and semi-final. We’ve changed the coach so many times over the years but never the demographics of the team. I feel that if you change the coach and the demographics of the team, you will see much better performances from the Springboks.’
Garry Pagel (former Bok prop)
'After the style of rugby we played this year, Meyer doesn't deserve another stint. There's no consistency or growth in the Boks' game, because Meyer doesn't know how to utilise his players. I went to watch both semi-finals and we were the only team that didn't exit our territory effectively. They kept on wanting to play from deep, yet when entering the opposition half the Boks never looked like scoring a try. And when they did kick from deep, the execution was so bad, it presented the All Blacks with an opportunity to attack again. Under Meyer, we have no designated style of play, which is not only confusing the supporters, but the players too. I think it's time for a change.'
Wayne Fyvie (former Bok flank)
'I have my doubts about him as national coach, but I don't think he'll be given the boot. If his contract is extended, he has to be prepared to adopt a different game plan. Compared to the All Blacks, Wallabies and Argentina, who've all improved since the last World Cup, we've stagnated. Just looking at try-scoring opportunities, the Boks created the fewest, because they are not clinical enough with ball in hand. The game has moved on and we're lingering behind. But that's because our provinces haven't developed either. The Lions are the only progressive team in South Africa. Meyer must be willing to change his philosophy and follow suit. If not, then he is not the man for the job.'
Pieter Hendriks (former Bok wing)
‘Firstly, I think the whole country is still very emotional [about the Boks not making the final]. But I have to say that if Heyneke Meyer stays on as coach I can’t see him changing the brand of rugby he wants the Boks to play. However, I do not think Heyneke is altogether a bad coach. I just think he made some mistakes and poor selections, especially regarding the coaching team he surrounded himself with. I think he and his coaching staff lacked the “respect factor”. If you compare the current Bok coaches to Kitch Christie’s 1995 coaching team, back then you had the likes of Morné du Plessis, Gysie Pienaar, Hennie Bekker and Ray Mordt assisting Kitch. I think the coaches back then were more respected as former players and guys with immense knowledge of the game.
'I would clean house regarding the Springbok coaching staff and appoint someone like Allister Coetzee as head coach, but surround him with coaching staff who are respected, can take responsibility and be held accountable. I’m thinking of guys like Johan Ackermann, Rassie Erasmus and Brendan Venter. If Heyneke is to stay on as coach he needs to surround himself with coaching staff who are knowledgeable about the game and command that “respect factor” from players and supporters alike. I also feel that our selection panel needs to change. Ian McIntosh and Peter Jooste are getting old now, and while I don't doubt their knowledge of the game, I don't think you will get the same knowledge from guys their age as you will from ex-players like Ray Mordt.
‘I was bitterly disappointed in the way Heyneke handled his squad selection for the World Cup, even though he was under pressure with injuries to key players like Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee. He lacked the courage to select a player like Jaco Kriel, who definitely could have broken the advantage line for the Boks at the World Cup. Jean de Villiers shouldn't have been taken along, given that he was carrying an injury and not quite up to speed. You need speed on attack and Jean was simply too slow to attack effectively, especially in the losses against Japan in the World Cup and Argentina in the Rugby Championship.
'Springbok rugby did not progress under Heyneke and it was the same at the Blue Bulls, even with world-class players like Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana. The days are gone when you can just bulldoze your way through the opposition. You need to play a more complete game and I don’t think Heyneke is the man to take Springbok rugby there.’
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