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Springbok team to have a Barbarian feel

biltongbek Roar Guru

By biltongbek, biltongbek is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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108 Have your say

    In a period where South African rugby is supposed to move forward with a new generation of rugby player, Heyneke Meyer has decided to continue the practice Pieter de Villiers was so heavily criticised for.

    Does anyone remember John Smit being held on to for the 2011 Rugby World Cup when Bismarck du Plessis was warming the bench when he was widely touted as the best hooker on the planet?

    Heyneke Meyer has decided to go a step further, the old guard in not only important, but more importantly the new mantra for being a Springbok is that you must ply your trade overseas.

    Slogging day in and day out in the Super Rugby Competition is seen as a negative, it seems to implicate that Meyer does not rate his home grown talent, but rather the bigger your pay check, the better chance you have of running out for the Springboks.

    As most will be aware there are currently a host of players plying their trade in Europe and Japan that has been included in the current squad for the Rugby Championship.

    Amongst these are Gurthro Steenkamp (Age 32, Toulouse), Juandre Kruger (Age 27, Racing Metro), Francois Louw (Age 28, Bath), Ruan Pienaar (Age 29, Ulster), Fourie du Preez (Age 31, Suntory), Morne Steyn (Age 29, Stade Francais), Bryan Habana (Age 30, Toulon) and Zane Kirchner (Age 29, Leinster).

    The latest news from the republic is that SARU is now in negotiations with Kobe Steelers over the release and availability of Jaque Fourie.

    “We are still negotiating (with his club for the tour of Australia and New Zealand), but things are a bit relaxed now because the guys are on tour,” a source revealed to News 24..

    If JP Pietersen were available you could argue Meyer would have included him in the touring squad as well.

    The question is how long before Meyer convinces Bakkies Botha to answer a recall to the Springbok team?

    When Pieter de Villiers held on to his “inherited” squad from Jake White and went into the Rugby World Cup tournament in 2011, the writing was on the wall from their opening game when South Africa barely held on to beat Wales, a further indication that South Africa was on borrowed time was the uninspired performance against a charged up Samoa.

    Ultimately the lack of new ideas and more skill full players able to execute attacking moves cost South Africa the Quarter final against an equally uninspiring Australia.

    One would have expected Heyneke Meyer, widely touted as the incumbent Springbok coach after Jake White, would have learnt from the Pieter de Villiers era and come to the realisation that new blood and new ideas would be the most important ingredient in replacing New Zealand as the number one team in the world.

    Seemingly Heyneke Meyer has other ideas.

    Now I am no expert, but to me it seems foolish to try and gain an ascendancy over your biggest rivals with the same players that failed so miserably over the past number of seasons.

    To add insult to injury, when you look at this core group of players, their success rate against Australia has been embarrassing to say the least.

    Smarter play, running into the space, supporting the ball carrier and attacking the weak shoulder are the requirements to turn around the record against Australia, not the same old bash it up, run through a wall approach.

    The only difference this time round will be that South Africa might as well allow their players to wear their club socks when they run onto the field of battle, at least this way the whole world can support their “international Barbarian team”

    The Welsh and the Scots might feel a bit neglected from the North though as they would have no club representatives to cheer on.

    Perhaps this is Meyer’s Master plan, make the Springboks the most loved team in world rugby, if not for falling short of being the best team in the world.

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    The Crowd Says (108)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:12am
      felix said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      🙂 Biltong I have a question,who would be your starting 15 to take over the All Blacks top spot ofcoarse overseas & aged players excluded?

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 6:48am
      Brendan Hope said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:48am | ! Report

      Hi Biltong

      I wouldn’t have a problem if these players were based at home. Our selection policy, allowing us to select overseas based players, has dangerous consequences which are exacerbated even further by the fact the Aussies and kiwis only select home based players.

      Look at the Bulls team, 60% of their side have left this season. How long can we keep replacing these guys?

      Unfortunately, I don’t think HM has much choice at this moment but to select experienced players ahead of fresh talent. His squad was looking quite good to me. I don’t see a need to bring baack anymore players “retired” from national duty. Pure madness…

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 7:17am
      biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Hi Felix and Brendon.

      Look we aren’t going to take the world by storm if we go cold turkey on the overseas players. In fact we might get a number of losses at first, but what SARU isn’t realising is that the only carrot we have to dangle in front of our home grwon players is the Bok jersey.

      And if we allow players from overseas to be selected we are sending a message out there that no matter who you play for, you are eligible.

      Now what is the logic for any player behind that?

      We must protect our domestic rugby at all cost, this should never be negotiable, not even if you are the best player in the world.

      He’ll go for rhe money. This invariably weakens our domestic structure. Just think about the numbers already overseas, I am told it is over 200, that means currently there are more professionally paid players overseas than in SA.

      I do understand a player kike Habana who has served his country going overseas for a pay day and a new experience, but as we have discussed before, Juandre Kruger has effectively used his Bok call up merely as a method to increase his market value.

      Now if we stop selecting these overseas players those hungry for a bok cap will stay.

      Those more commited to making money will leave.

      Currently our front row is home grown, Beast, Adriaan and Jannie. Their back up is Coenie, Bismarck and ?

      Locks we have Eben, Pieter Steph du Toit (injured) Flip v d Merwe, and then we can look at Landman, and a few others.

      Backrowers we have Brussow, instead of Louw.

      Halfback we have Sarel, Piet and Jaco Reinach pus the youngster from the Kings who have impressed this season.

      Flyhalf we have Goosen, Lambie, Catrakilis

      Centres are fine

      Wings may be a bit short , but there are guys like Ludick who in my view should have has an opportunity already, jurgen Visser, Paul Jordaan etc.

      The only real problem we have is Tight head prop, but if we give these youngsters a chance to build experience we can still perform,

      I honestly think Meyer does have choices, but he is staring into one goal only, win today, but what about tomorrow?

      • August 23rd 2013 @ 2:19am
        steve.h said | August 23rd 2013 @ 2:19am | ! Report

        JP Pietersen will be playing Super Rugby next season – same type of contract as Peter Grant and Ryan Kankowski.

        Once again more than half of those players you mention just finished playing super rugby and will be moving to their oversea’s clubs at culmination of the Rugby Championship, therefore they are local players for the time being. As I understand the deal with SARU is that only three players based oversea’s can be in the starting line up, so this will most likely curtail most of those players being selected.

        South Africa is a developing nation, with a high crime rate and fairly serious social/racial tensions – there is no way South Africa can really hope to keep it’s top players for the entirety of their playing careers. SARU needs to get clever in how they go about contracting players, possible setting up sabbaticals like the one Dan Carter had or pushing those players that wish to play oversea’s to have similar contracts like JP, Ryan Kankowski and Grant. Blooding new players is well and dandy but if they are getting hammered every weekend then they will have learnt nothing and we will be back to the dark days of Harry Viljeon and Rodolf Straulei

        • Roar Guru

          August 23rd 2013 @ 2:30am
          biltongbek said | August 23rd 2013 @ 2:30am | ! Report

          And now Habana has been requested to go back to France by his club, Fourie du Prrez can only play certain games.

          Is this what you want, a Bok team that cannot rely on their Boks and must stand hat in Hand at the back door of these overseas clubs to beg for a break.

          Where is your continuity in selection and building a squad.

          If you condone that then I honestly give up.

          • August 23rd 2013 @ 4:04am
            steve.h said | August 23rd 2013 @ 4:04am | ! Report

            No all I’m doing is being realistic about the socio-economic climate of South Africa. The present way oversea’s players are being implemented into the squad is not great because it is in an adhoc manner. If SARU was to hammer out a firm policy that saw a partnership between SARU and the overseas clubs (possible remuneration) or promoting springboks that want a change of scenery to play in the various Super Rugby teams from the other nations or sabbaticals so the players can set up sizeable retirement funds, I think we could implement an oversea’s based players regime that could work. The key would be to have defined limits and it be used only for senior Boks that have earned their stripes.

            To have a dictatorial attitude of if you don’t play in South Africa then you can’t play for the Boks is being extremely short sighted in regards with the situation the player face (only a limited time to ply their trade, long periods of time away from families, ect.) and the issues generally within the South African political landscape.

            I think the above mentioned idea would allow for continuity within a squad to be built whilst still maintaining the services of your most experienced players

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:53am
      felix said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Biltong it appears he’s building or keeping players for the world cup 2015,Biltong now emagine that local team ” Brussow is gone as well” vs the likes of Du Preez,Habana,JP,Louw etc by talent they dont stand a chance HM is in belief they are not too old for 2015 which makes building a team of youngsters an after thought,If HM wins the WC with Du Preez & co,emagine what a master he’ll look like whilst we look like mediocre trolls,because in ability they are the best pick to win.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 7:59am
      Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      BB it’s all about revenue, a winning south africa with overseas players brings in the revenue over less talented locals. Would you have preferred local halfback over FDP off the bench. Or what if habana,stein,jp peterson were fit and fresh would you say no, too a fit victor matfield in his prime if he was playing overseas. It’s all abut the revenue,. And a winning springboks mean money can fund the currie cup, and vodacom cup, the next wave of talent to be lured by overseas clubs and make millions for overseas clubs, and wear the boks jersey.

      • Roar Guru

        August 21st 2013 @ 8:05am
        biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:05am | ! Report

        No question Johnno, if they aren’t local, I don’t want them in my Springbok team.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 8:06am
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:06am | ! Report

          Good point BB, but don’t complain if the Boks lose more often.

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2013 @ 8:22am
            biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            It will only be for a while and even then it won’t be that many trams that will beat us.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 11:47am
              nickoldschool said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:47am | ! Report

              Fair enough biltong. For me it’s really a question between protecting the domestic comp or be competitive internationally. And I get that many ppl in SA want to support their domestic comp.

              I think Johnno is right though, this will affect Boks results and depth, no question in my mind. And I can see younger and younger players moving to those big euro or Japanese clubs and some of them choosing to play for their national team. It’s early days and we have already seen it happening in England and France.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 2:35pm
              biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

              Nick, if you protect the domestic scene you ultimately protect the Boks. It is a knock on effect, short term yes it is bad for the Boks, but not longterm.

            • August 28th 2013 @ 4:06am
              Ant said | August 28th 2013 @ 4:06am | ! Report

              I disagree – it is now a professional sport and they are plying their trade in order to generate an income and hopefully something that will assist them in life post rugby. it would not hurt australia to have a matt giteau in the mix – as great as lealifano is…. i believe that we should always field the best possible team in internationals and if they are playing overseas and they are the best then they must play…. this does not mean that the guys playing locally will not be noticed, arno botha to name 1 – in the next 2 seasons you will see a springbok squad develop into a team with depth and great talent and experience. the names that you have mentioned above have all just left after the latest s15 comp except for Francois Louw!
              please explain how you see this having a negative effect on sa rugby – most of the guys mentioned will be back to play in the s15 next year and potentially the world cup in 2015. i think that HM is not doing anything like PDV did and is not hanging on to people to carry through to the wc – who is hanging onto? everybody in that squad has got a good 5 years left in them (of the older players – the youngsters have a great deal more, possibly 2 more world cups). JDV should be around for the next world cup, but i believe that once the jan serfontein’s and jj engelbrecht’s are blooded properly we will have the best backline in the world with piet van zyl (second to fdp), johan goosen/handre pollard, serfontein/jdv, engelbrecht/de jongh, habana/mvovo/rhule, pietersen/basson, lambie/aplon/le roux – what a future for bok rugby and being consistent…. i believe that we have learnt from the past and you cannot just have a bunch of new caps without any experienced caps….
              The boks were hitting their stride in 2011 world cup in that australia game and i believe NZ were very relieved when we were blown out of that game…. just my 2c worth

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:12am
        rugby_phile said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        By the same argument Johno would you have brought back Kaino if you were the AB manager rather than using Messam, and when Messam was injured would you have tried again for Kaino rather than using Luatua. All of a sudden the ABs have 3 superb 6s (because Shagg took a punt on the local talent) as Kaino I reckon is coming back because he is hungry to play AB rugby again, and he knows it ain’t going to happen while he is in Japan.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 11:57am
          Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          nos exaclty, a stronger boks means more money coming in to grow the code. And sure it may be sad if the local scene dies a bit, like south american soccer comps Brazil,Argentina, and Uruguay especially, great clubs reduced to feeder status for big euro clubs, but that’s life, and it helps keep the national team strong, and money coming in. And fans as the A-league shows still will follow local sport even if it’s a bit lower standard. The point is by allowing foreign players plying trade overseas helps the national team, it can only be good for revenue and interest in the game.
          Ask yourself should the Boks not pick Victor Matfield in his prime for say a world cup or lion’s series if he were overseas,awnser, no.
          Look at how fresh FDP looked on the weekend and what an addition he made to the team off the bench,

          Rugby_phile,yes look, i believe the future is anyway like soccer, global, no restrictions on where you play your club footy. NZ long term doesn’t have the cash to keep the players from Europe, with the advent of the russia market and french expansion is only gonna get bigger, and this is before the US/Canada market gets into full swing. And Italy too will expand you can bet on that.
          Rugby is there to stay in Italy. So natural demand will mean Aust/NZ will fade a bit.

          Example: This week Japan rugby signed Andrew Evringham, south sydney winger who was on 130K, a regular 1st grader. He has been signed by Japan rugby for 500K , 4 times his wage to do basically the same thing, and a much shorter season, so go figure the money on offer, it’s inevitable all the mid-tier All Blacks, and fringe All Blacks the Victor Vito types will expand in numbers departing NZ. Already plenty overseas now mid-tier fringe AB’S , Adam Thompson,John Afoa types.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:13pm
            nickoldschool said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            Yes I know Johnno, I also think its inevitable (provided rugby continues to grow. Money is elsewhere, no question). Problem is I do understand biltong and others as I feel it’s less into rugby’s minds to have a team of foreigners representing them. It’s a much more parochial sport than football.

            I have never had any problem having most French football players based overseas (mostly because I dislike them 😉 ) but tbh I would not like that in rugby. Probably because I am still used to supporting a team with locals in it. It’s a tough one really. But I get that Aussies, kiwis or saffas do not want to become like Samoa, Tonga or Fiji with 95% of their players based overseas. With all due respect I just think we in Oceania are just so removed from the rest of the world that we are not ready for this. As Steve said earlier, this exodus has been happening all over the world for decades in all sports now. Not much here as we play afl, NRL and rugby. Ppl aren’t ready for it I think.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:34pm
            rugby_phile said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:34pm | ! Report

            Johno, reasoned arguments, time will tell, I guess at the end of the day its a fine balance of how much your national jersey is worth vs the big bucks (and I don’t undrestimate the value of the big bucks).

            But I still feel you can balance things by earning a reasonable amount while supporting your country and paying your dues for the development effort they put into you, and at a later stage finish your career overseas ala Habana, Bakkies etc. and setyourself up financially for life.

            As regards the Mattfield parallel, in the last world cup NZ turned down the services of Hayman (arguably at that time the best prop in the world) and Nick Evans (and by god they needed him when the flyhalfs were falling over).

            Did it harm them? No, they just ended up wit wonderfull new talent.

            But as I said this is going to be a continuous argment and I guess we also have to accept that each situsituation/country is unique in how they deal with it. I would certainly hate to see NZ go down this path and I still remember in 96 people saying professionalism would kill them becausethey couldn’t compete financially, wel they at still right up there.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 12:44pm
              Johnno said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

              Most teams don’t have the depth of NZ, any team even the Boks. And global rugby is getting more competitive.
              Still i’d rather than win at all costs, than lose valiantly with less talented players whose heart is in the right place.
              Winning no matter how it’s achieved is always better, than losing with honour. Remember it’s winner who write history, and winners are what grow revenue, just ask the wallabies who keep losing valiantly.

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2013 @ 2:37pm
            biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

            Johnno, it isn’t going to weaken the Soringbok brand forever.

            It will strengthen it.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 7:02pm
            Benny said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

            I used to agree with you and I’ve been waiting nervously for almost 20 years since professionalism for NZ rugby to fall apart. Hayman/MacAlister leaving looked like the start of an avalanche. Instead, NZ rugby has surprisingly gotten stronger and I think/hope we can keep going as long as we find our niche and play to our strengths.

            France complains that its national team is weaker because its top club teams are full of foreigners in important positions, the home nations complain that their best players are all playing in France because there’s no salary cap and now RSA is being hit because they are selecting players from abroad.

            If what you say is true, that the game is going more global then yes, NZ’s slice of the pie will be smaller but the pie will be much larger. The AIG deal wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago, nor the Bledisloe games in Asia and the TV rights will be worth more. The NZRU this week made a fairly significant increase in player payments as a result. On top of that, guys like Cruden and McCaw probably realise that although their playing career may only be 10 years if you’re lucky and 6 in their prime, they can now make cash coaching until they are old men. This is only possible because the market is getting bigger. Stay home as “poor” youngsters, travel the world as rich old coaches.

            Whether or not it actually plays out like this is difficult to say. The moment NZ starts getting weaker, which could easily happen if the next Carter/McCaw happen to be come from a European country, then I worry that the black jersey will be less of an incentive to stay home and NZ will be less of a draw for sponsorship.

          • Roar Guru

            August 22nd 2013 @ 2:20am
            peeeko said | August 22nd 2013 @ 2:20am | ! Report

            i agree on most of your points Johnno, i also saw everingham signed for Japanese rugby and that 500k was the reported amount. to me that seems very high and put no faith in the figures reported in sydney papers, saying that it would be easily in excess of his rabbits contract

          • August 28th 2013 @ 5:30am
            Ant said | August 28th 2013 @ 5:30am | ! Report


        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 2:36pm
          biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

          Rugbyphile. My whole reasoning exactly.

          You won’t create depth if you don’t try new guys.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 6:28pm
            rugby_phile said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

            We seem to be in the minority BB, surprised people don’t see the long term damage this would cause.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 7:46pm
              biltongbek said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:46pm | ! Report

              Yep, to me it is only logical.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am
      Steve said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      To me it just looks like a normal sporting team, like the Argentinian or Brazillian football team, the Spanish or Australian basketball team, the Dominican or Venezualan baseball team, the Canadian or Russian hockey team etc.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:57am
        nickoldschool said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:57am | ! Report

        I quite agree Steve. It’s just that big rugby nations aren’t used to that. Until recently most players stayed in their country at club level. What we are seeing now is unprecedented in the rugby world.

        To be honest, I think the only winners are the ones who make money out of that. Not sure the fans are that happy: sure the Toulon, bath, ulster etc fans see some of the best players at club level but they know it affects their national team too. On some w-e, you have 2-3 French in the starting XV, most of time not even coming from the club’s own youth teams.

        Personally I don’t want to say NO to players who want to go overseas or blackmail them like we do in Oz or NZ. Sure it’s the only solution and as such ‘it works’. But I still struggle to accept the only way to keep a player in the country is to threaten him to not select him for the national team if he chooses to play club rugby abroad. Seems a bit extreme to me. On the other hand, I wish we could do more to keep them in SR and make them want to stay here for the right reasons rather than have this Damocles sword over their head. But it’s a tough call.

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