Don't pick Goosen yet - Naka
Any thoughts that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer may have about selecting Toyota Free State wunderkid Johan Goosen should be shelved until the Boks get back from Australia and New Zealand.
This is the view of Goosen’s coach at the Cheetahs, Naka Drotske, who welcomed the young star back into his side last week for his first game in four months after a shoulder injury.
There is no doubt of Goosen’s pedigree, the youngster showed in Vodacom Super Rugby earlier this season that he is not out of his depth in international rugby, but Drotske believes it is too soon to throw him into the deep end.
At 19, Goosen is widely tipped to take over from incumbent Morne Steyn, and after the Boks' poor performance against Argentina in Mendoza this past weekend, those calls have elevated into a crescendo as fans look for a scapegoat for the draw.
But Goosen has just returned and was on the field for 50 minutes against Griquas, and in Drotske’s own words looked “rusty” with both his kicking and attacking game.
There is also a worry that mismanaging him, and forcing him in too early would ultimately hamper his career and ensure that Goosen is not a long-term option for the Boks.
With coach Meyer likely to name his squad to tour Australia and New Zealand in the next day or two, there is some expectation that Goosen should be included to help right the wrongs of Mendoza.
But Drotske believes this will be a massive mistake if it happens.
“I’m happy with his 50 minutes on the field,” Drotske told supersport.com, “He was rustly and missed a few kicks at posts and to the sideline, but the match aspect was definitely a good one for him to be in.
“I don’t think he should be called up to the Springboks just yet. I’m not just saying that out of a Free State viewpoint, but rather because he is a young player who has been out with a big injury for four months. What use will it be to make him play in difficult conditions in Australia and New Zealand. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Drotske believes that Goosen should play a few more Absa Currie Cup games before he takes the next step up.
“I think he needs three or four games for us to get his confidence and self-belief up and then he will be 100 per cent ready when the Springboks return from overseas to play at home. That would be my call on how to manage him.”
It is clear that Drotske will communicate his thoughts to the Bok management, and Bok coach Meyer may well agree, especially as he can always call on Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies or utility back Pat Lambie as back-up to Steyn in the Antipodean leg of the Castle Rugby Championship.
Still, it is understandable for Drotske to feel this way, especially as most flyhalves would have struggled with the poor platform the Bok forwards gave their halfbacks this past weekend. While Steyn has been widely blamed for the draw, the fact is that his forwards hardly gave him any good ball throughout the game.
Interestingly, statistics from ruckinggoodstats.com point out that Argentina kicked more than the Boks and despite criticism of the Boks' kicking performance, the stats show that Steyn actually passed the ball more. Steyn passed 23 times – or 70 per cent of the ball he received – and kicked only 9 – or 27% - of the ball he received.
While Steyn’s goalkicking this season has been below par, he has shown the willingness to run the ball more, and had the second highest running metres on attack in the recent series against England.