Time for Steyn to make way for Goosen
“I will coach my players into form,” the now fast becoming infamous words of Heyneke Meyer.
Morne Steyn has been a bone of contention since his call up for the English test series in June of this year, he showed poor form during the first half of the Super Rugby and as much as he tried, showed no improvement over the latter part either.
Although the Springboks won their first two Tests during that series, it was clear that Morne Steyn – usually a very accurate goal kicker – had lost form.
Forget for a moment that he stands too deep and offers no threat on attack, forget for a moment that he doesn’t control his backline with any effectiveness, forget for a moment that he does not possess the necessary pace to hit a gap and above all forget for a moment that he offers little if not no variation or unpredictability.
He is there to kick goals. He has to be – when your game plan does not utilise front-foot ball, counterattack ball or first phase ball to attack defences, then you are pretty much reliant on your goal kicker to provide the goods.
June 9, 2012 England
Steyn kicks 4/7 scoring 12 points missing 7
June 16, 2012 England
Steyn kicks 5/9 scoring 13 points missing 10
June 23, 2012 England
Steyn kicks 3/6 scoring 9 points missing 8
August 18, 2012 Argentina
Steyn kicks 5/5 scoring 12 points
August 25, 2012 Argentina
Steyn kicks 4/6 scoring 11 points missing 6
September 8, 2012 Australia
Steyn kicks 3/4 scoring 8 missing 3
September 15, 2012 New Zealand
Steyn kicks 1/5 scoring 3 points missing 11
Total kicking accuracy for the season 25/42 – 59.5%
Is there any international coach who would persist with a goal kicker that has this record?
In fact, is there any international coach who would persist with a goal kicker half this timeframe?
Every time criticism is levied towards Morne Steyn, staunch Steyn supporters will remind us how many games has Morne Steyn actually won for the Springboks. Well, err, not really that many – 23/41 with two draws – not a stellar record by any means.
The counter argument would be that the South African game plan is outdated and it shouldn’t all be put at Morne Steyn’s feet. Fair enough, but then let’s get back to the main reason he is in team team, goal kicking.
A goal kicker must kick at least 80% of his kicks to be considered of international standard. Considering Steyn had an accuracy of 90% during the 2011 Rugby World Cup, then 59.5% is a clear indication that his form has disappeared.
The game plan surely cannot be laid at Steyn’s feet, however the execution of his kicks being too deep for wings to chase can, as can the fact that he plays far behind the advantage line and has shown no ability to get his outside backs onto the advantage, as well as the fact often he isn’t in position to be the first receiver to control play as well.
Johan Goosen, in 30 minutes of play during the Australian and New Zealand encounters, has shown immediate improvement in South Africa’s attack. There seems to have been more urgency, cleaner and quicker hands and an ability to gain forward momentum. Goosen has also shown in the little time he has had that he can step, break tackles and offload.
What is Meyer waiting for?
Goosen may be low on game time, but he didn’t look out of his depth against Australia or New Zealand, and in my view the time has come to give him an 80 minute opportunity.
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