Mallett: Meyer's style will stifle player creativity

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett. (Gallo)

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett. (Gallo)

“That is the only thing I’m slightly worried about with the Heyneke regime – his mantra is execution above innovation,” Mallett told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“So he is not looking for innovative players, he’s looking for people who execute well.

“If we are going to do a move that will take the centre into the midfield, we are going to do it so well, at such pace, that it doesn’t matter if the opposition know about it – we will get across the advantage line and we will dominate that impact zone.”

He said South Africans should not underestimate the Roses under the tutelage of Stuart Lancaster.

“They are a very exciting team and a lot of South Africans disparage Northern Hemisphere rugby but, coaching wise, they are really well coached at their clubs,” he said.

“A lot of their clubs get overseas coaches and so they get New Zealand, Australian and sometime South African input.”

Among the favourites
Mallett was among the favourites to land England’s top coaching job but was pipped by Lancaster who was the country’s interim coach during the Six Nations.

“It is just the physicality I think that will be the question mark around this team and whether they will match the South Africans’ physicality,” Mallett said.

“It is going to be a really exciting series and I wouldn’t be surprised if they sink a game.”

He said he had sympathy for Meyer who had only one week to prepare his side for the first Test against England in Durban on June 9.

Mallett felt the time constraints could see Meyer revert to his tried and tested Bulls model and he expected a number of Bulls players to form the core of the Bok team.

“If you think about the time he [Meyer] spent with the Bulls, you shouldn’t be surprised if it is a Bulls-dominated type of side,” said Mallett.

“That’s why he mentioned Victor Matfield and why he is talking about Fourie du Preez as his captain and I am convinced that is what he will do.”

Accurate kicking
He said Meyer would stick to his accurate kicking game and Springbok scrumhalf Du Preez would be a crucial proponent of his plans.

“You have to have the best box kicker or tactical kicker in world rugby for him to be successful and that is why he is banking on Fourie, also Fourie knows his personality,” Mallett said.

“I think it is going to be a very conservative team and a conservative game plan.

“He’ll be happy to win 25-18 with a handful of penalties, a drop goal and a breakaway try.”

Mallett said fans should not expect enterprising backline play from the Boks in the first three Tests under Meyer.

He did feel the national side was in good hands with Rassie Erasmus in charge of the technical side and Meyer taking care of the players’ commitment to the national cause.

“Going into this Test knowing that you’ve got Rassie analysing their lineouts, their attacking strategy and their kicking … and knowing you’ve got Heyneke with his assistants making sure about the players’ focus,” he said.

“He [Meyer] is very good at making sure players understand what playing for the Bulls or for South Africa means to him and to them and what it means to the rest of the country.” – Sapa


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