The Springbok coach gets to sit back on his couch

The cool thing about a Rugby World Cup year for the Springbok coach is that he gets to sit back on his couch and watch the contenders slowly but surely slip away for the champions in the four months of Super Rugby.

Heyneke Meyer has been around the block a few times and, as Super Rugby unfolds, he will pick up which players are coasting on reputation and hoping to get through Super Rugby without injury, and which ones are scrapping for their lives to earn a shot of representing their country on the ultimate stage.

There is a fundamental that players who genuinely want to win the World Cup with the Boks have to understand. And it is that they have to play each Super Rugby game to their utmost ability to win for their teammates, their coach, their franchise, and their fans.

And they should not be seeing each Super Rugby match as a further selfish chance to impress the Bok coach. The players that contribute most to their team and don’t focus on themselves will ultimately prosper.

The players with inbred hunger – and here an initial no-name brand in Marcell Coetzee springs to mind – will know that half measures will avail them nothing. Nothing short of vigorous honesty in their performances will see them though to England 2015. It is about keeping the eyes on what is in front of you and giving it the best possible shot, and if that is done, the future takes care of itself.

You have to concentrate on the present and how well you can play for your province each week, and if you do that to the best of your ability, Bok selection will take care of itself.

And if there are some Bok cruisers out there, and undoubtedly there are some nurturing those lingering hamstrings, they are in danger of being overtaken by players with genuine hunger. And as long as Meyer is courageous and honest, those are the men you want to fight a World Cup battle with, not the malingerers that pick and choose their games because they have an agenda based on future gain, and are planning ahead as to when they will peak.

In a World Cup year, and in fact in any season, the only thing a player can control is what is immediately in front of him. Just as he cannot change the past, or even recall it if it is favourable, he is powerless over what might happen next week, never mind in six months time.

The leading South African players that grasp the simple premise of concentrating on the here-and-now will be the ones with the inside track to selection for Meyer’s World Cup squad.

There is no better illustration of the right way to do it in a World Cup year than the performances of the country’s best flyhalves. The rivalry between Patrick Lambie and Handre Pollard is bringing the best out of both of them, and the Springboks will be the ultimate winner.

It is developing into a mouth-watering conundrum for Meyer, and indeed the rugby public. Each flyhalf is focusing solely on what he can do for his team, and each has been in blistering form.

Last November, Pollard was the flyhalf for the tour match against Ireland, but Lambie finished the tour as the man in possession. Lambie was the best flyhalf in the country in the opening three rounds of Super Rugby, only for Pollard to deliver a stunning performance for the Bulls last week against the Cheetahs, not that Lambie was anything less than exceptional against the Stormers in a lone wolf performance.

So who will be starting for the Boks in England in September? Who knows, but it likely will be the one that keeps his head down and does the best he can with what is in front of him each weekend.

BY Mike Greenaway

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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