Three former players and a coach on whether Heyneke Meyer is to blame for the Springboks' lack of fitness and conditioning.
André Snyman (former Bok centre/wing)
'Every club, province and/or franchise has conditioning coaches, it's totally invalid to blame Heyneke Meyer for that. The Bok players spend the majority of their time with the franchises, so if there's someone to blame it should be the people in charge of fitness and conditioning at that level. But we're reading too much into that loss against the All Blacks, I feel. There's not much of a difference between the fitness levels of our guys and New Zealand. Where they do have an edge over us, is mentally. Despite not firing on all cylinders, there's always a belief within the team that they should win a Test match. If the Boks start to believe in themselves and their teammates like the All Blacks do, we'd be much better for it.'
Wayne Fyvie (former Bok flank)
'It's unfair to say Heyneke is the reason why the Boks have not reached the same fitness and conditioning level as the All Blacks. Last weekend's result has nothing to do with fitness. South Africa have not peaked yet, and I see that as a massive positive. When a team peaks too early, there's usually a decline in performance. This Bok team are yet to play to their full potential and it'll only happen when we have an injury-free squad to pick from. Meyer's team will be the biggest threat at the World Cup, I believe that.'
Ollie le Roux (former Bok prop)
'I don't agree with that sentiment [that Meyer is to blame]. If you measure the performances of Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger and Bismarck du Plessis against their direct opponents, there's no way they can be less conditioned than the All Blacks or any other team for that matter. We are not New Zealand and we play a totally different game to them. We dominated the first half, they did so in the second. It was just an enjoyable game. To make Heyneke the fall guy for what some perceive as a lack of conditioning and fitness in comparison to New Zealand is ridiculous. The Boks must just learn to take whatever points are on offer and close out the big matches. There's nothing wrong with our fitness and conditioning.'
Jimmy Stonehouse (former Pumas coach)
'No, Heyneke is not to blame. He doesn't get the support from South African franchises as Steve Hansen does in New Zealand. Another thing is he is allowed to pick overseas-based players, so he only gets to work with those guys during the Test windows, which is twice a year. It's not that South Africa are lagging behind, New Zealand are just miles ahead of all other Test teams conditioning wise, because of the brand of rugby they play. There's not a lot of time left before the World Cup starts, but Heyneke is doing his best and to blame him for something like that, is wrong.'
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