Meyer: Goosen can be world’s best
3 May 2012
The Springbok coach has described the loss of Johan Goosen as a ‘massive blow’ but is adamant the young flyhalf will play an important Test role in years to come.
Goosen injured his shoulder in the Cheetahs’ recent match against the Highlanders, and it was later confirmed that he will be out of all rugby for four months. It’s a big setback not only for the Cheetahs, but also for the Boks since the 19-year-old was expected to play some part in the series against England.
Morné Steyn is set to start at No 10 in those three Tests, although there are some other strong candidates. Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Peter Grant have all been exposed to the Bok set-up, and all three are currently in form for their respective Super Rugby franchises.
However, as Meyer confirms, it is Goosen that is the brightest long-term prospect.
‘We’re very fortunate at the moment to have four or five great flyhalf options. There’s Morné who has a great tactical game, and Peter who is playing the best rugby of his career. Then there is Pat and Elton who also have some special attributes.
‘I really believe that once he has matured a bit more Johan can become one of the best in the world. He has that ability to take the ball to the line, he likes to get physical, and that has impressed me. He has all the skills as well as the mental toughness.
‘It’s a big blow to lose him, but it’s because of that mental toughness that I believe he will bounce back.’
Meyer has said that he will favour experienced players for the England series, but thereafter, he will start making selections geared towards future success.
The new Bok coach wants a flyhalf with the full range of skills, and clearly feels that Goosen is the type of player who can bring South Africa success in the long term.
‘I am focused on the coming series against England, but the 2015 World Cup is also in the back of my mind,’ Meyer said. ‘You want a strong tactical flyhalf for those conditions, you want a flyhalf who can make a difference be it on defence, in front of goal, or kicking out of hand.
‘A flyhalf is the equivalent of a quarterback in American football. You pick your quarterback first, and you pick your flyhalf first. I want a player who has the skills but also has the mental toughness to kick it over in a big game.’
Goosen became a YouTube sensation when he booted a 67m penalty in a school game in 2010. Since making his Super Rugby debut this year, the power of his kicking boot has been complemented by his accuracy.
And despite his tactical kicking strengths, he has also shown a willingness to move the ball, or if the situation has arisen, to have a dart at the line.
South Africa has finally uncovered a complete flyhalf. While injury may have robbed him of an opportunity to face England, there’s no doubt that Goosen will get his chance later in the year.
By Jon Cardinelli