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Wed Apr 16 18:02:33 SAST 2014

Meyer defends Brussow shock

CRAIG RAY | 06 June, 2012 07:500 Comments
2012 SupeRugbY: Toyota Cheetahs training session
Heinrich Brussow during a Cheetahs training session at Free State Stadium on April 03, 2012 in Bloemfontein, South Africa
Image by: Loren Battersby / Gallo Images

SPRINGBOK coach Heyneke Meyer's vocal defence of his decision to exclude openside flank Heinrich Brussow from the squad to face England suggests he misjudged the public's anger at what is a shock call.

Meyer explained at length the evolution of the game and how an openside flank is no longer as vital as he was a year ago.

He said Brussow gave away too many penalties.

"Rugby is changing all the time and sometimes the specialist openside flanker has a massive role to play and at other times the role becomes obsolete," Meyer said. "At the moment we are in one of those periods when the specialist fetcher [can become a liability] in that the referees are penalising them.

"At the moment the way the game is being played and refereed it makes more sense to have an all-rounder."

Wallaby coach Robbie Deans doesn't think so and has selected openside specialist David Pocock, while All Black coach Steve Hansen won't axe Richie McCaw.

Meyer's claim that Brussow concedes too many penalties doesn't bear scrutiny. The biggest offenders in Super rugby this year have been Coenie Oosthuizen, Werner Kruger and Bismarck du Plessis, with 21, 19 and 17 penalties conceded respectively. All three are in the Bok squad.

Brussow has conceded 16. Not many fewer, but he and Oosthuizen spend more time scrambling on defence and are therefore forced to make more desperate decisions.

Even Brumbies coach Jake White, who famously dismissed the need for a specialist openside flank, was shocked when he heard Brussow had been omitted.

"I'm really puzzled by that. When we [Brumbies] played the Cheetahs we were sh****** ourselves about Brussow for good reason."

Meyer also pointed out that hookers and props seemed to be making more turnovers. The stats bear this out. The most successful at turnovers in Super rugby are Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and Du Plessis with 33 and 31 respectively.

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Meyer defends Brussow shock

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