Pre-season spending and the 44-13 win over the Stormers revealed Heyneke Meyer’s preoccupation with size in the midfield. Speaking to keo.co.za, the Bulls mentor reveals why centre size really does matter.
“I’ve already preferred big centres, and especially playing away in New Zealand where it’s wet and you don’t get that many favourable decisions, sometimes you must keep it simple,” Meyer explained. “Then you need to dominate the collisions. If you look at the history of the Super 12, South African sides have struggled particularly in the midfield where the big New Zealand centres have gotten on top and then it’s a long afternoon.
“If you’ve got a big guy whose quick, fast and has all the skills, it’s a lot better than a little guy with the same attributes.”
Meyer’s statement has been backed up by his acquisition of Dries Scholtz (100kg) from Griquas, Rudi Coetzee (100kg) from the Lions, and the return of Frikkie Welsh (98kg) in March from Bath. They join JP Nel (96kg) and Wynand Olivier (87kg).
“We’re lucky in that we have a mix of players,” Meyer continued. “We have someone like Wynand whose world-class, a classical inside centre, whose a great passer of the ball. Then a guy like Dries can mix it up with raw physical power. I like to have that type of mix in my team. If you look at other positions, Derick [Hougaard] can play a certain type of rugby and Morne [Steyn] another.”
“One of our mistakes in the past is having our first and second choice guys relatively similar players. The way I’m going now is that we can play two very different players of similar quality, depending on our tactics.”
Saturday’s victory over the Stormers showcased the value of the Scholtz/Nel combination, where regular crossing of the advantage line resulted in the trademark one-off runners profiting in the second half.
Olivier’s cameo at fullback also suggested he will slot in at 15 should Johan Roets suffer further injury, although the value of rotating Olivier and Scholtz is immense bearing in mind their contrasting styles.
The Bully Boys continue their pre-season preparations against the Sharks at Sun City on Saturday.