Heyneke Meyer believes that with the right guidance Morné Steyn can make a Bryan Habana-type recovery and still contribute to the Springbok cause.
The overseas leg of the Boks’ Rugby Championship campaign was a failure if you consider that they drew with Argentina and lost to both Australia and New Zealand. In all three matches, they could have won had they been more accurate with their kicks on goal.
Despite the poor record on tour, Meyer was in an upbeat mood and truly believes the Boks have made good progress. Regarding the problem around Steyn and his goal-kicking, Meyer still feels the flyhalf can add value, although the Bok coach is yet to decide whether Steyn will continue in a starting position.
Meyer compared Steyn to Habana, and believes the former can replicate the latter’s return to form. Habana struggled in the 2010 and 2011 seasons before returning to his best in 2012, and Meyer hopes that in time Steyn will do the same.
‘I don’t want to knock individuals but the missed kicks were crucial,’ Meyer said. ‘Morné is mentally tough though and if you look at what happened to Bryan Habana, with the right guidance he is now playing phenomenal rugby again.
‘I don’t want to boost myself, but I’ve always been great at getting the best out of players and the mental break will do Morné well. We’ll look at the situation after this weekend’s Currie Cup matches and then decide who will play.’
Meyer added that the game plan used by the Boks this season, a playing pattern that has copped a lot of flak, was largely successful in Dunedin. Meyer has no intention of changing tact.
‘The guys were very unhappy not to win, but sometimes we’ve played worse rugby in New Zealand and won, it was just the goal-kicking that let us down. Otherwise we did enough to win, it was the right game plan and we kept them under pressure, we just couldn’t convert that into points.
‘It was 3-5 at halftime, but it could have been 15-5 if we’d made our kicks, that would have built pressure and they would have had to chase the game. There’s always criticism about the game plan, but I believe we got it 100% right. We had them under pressure.’
The Bok coach was also very pleased with the performance of his forwards, and said this was another major sign of progress.
‘I thought we scrummed well and I’m very happy with our front row. The combination we used in the loose forwards was superb against the best loose trio in the world and we have four great locks going forward. I think it instilled that self-belief in the team that they can beat anyone anywhere.’