“Great week, always great playing the All Blacks. “I have a lot of respect for Heinrich, there was a lot of speculation in the media that there was bad blood between us, but that’s not true, Heinrich knew exactly where he stood, he worked hard and he didn’t run to the media to fight his battle there and we had a lot of conversations through those times.
“I told him exactly what he needed to work on, to bring him back into the fold, this year he really played great rugby coming back from Japan, he worked on his speed, but unfortunately he got injured otherwise he would have played earlier, so he’s playing against one of the best opensides in the world in Richie McCaw, even those times I was at the Bulls playing the Crusaders was always one of the biggest battles.
“I just felt this game is the right one to give him a go, to see what he can do, he has a very good record against the All Blacks, and hopefully he can bring us some luck, but very excited to see him there and see what he can do with Francois Louw as well at the breakdown because the battle on the ground is going to be very fierce, and probably won and lost there.
“Good to give him a go and very excited for him.” Meyer said he had been very open with Brussow.
“Without saying it in the press because it was one-on-ones with the player and he had two very bad injuries, and I told him to keep faith, he probably tried to be too big, and he picked up some weight and he lost that weight and picked up his speed, and in Japan where the game is a lot quicker, so this year in Super Rugby I could see his speed is back and he lost a few kgs, he really worked on playing towards the ball to get quick turnovers.
“People just see openside flankers just stealing ball, the main thing of an opensider is that you have to secure the ball once you have it, and it’s one thing he has worked on, it is a gamble specifically against the All Blacks because they are the best lineout team in the world, you lose a bit in the lineout, also with Victor Matfield being out, and a new captain so it’s a big call, but I still believe the two of them can cause havoc.”
Meyer added that Brussow have now an opportunity to repay the faith showed in him.
“I’ve always said Francois Louw is maybe the best opensider around, but he is still involved so I just felt I wanted to give him a fair chance and there’s no better competition than playing against the All Blacks, with all the injuries now, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen are all out, it thought I wanted to give Heinrich a go against the best and even going to Argentina there will be a lot of changes in the next two games.
“He deserves a chance, I’m not giving him a chance, and whenever he has played against the All Blacks he has done well, the option was to put Warren Whiteley on the bench because lineout-wise he was my first choice, but bringing Heinrich from the bench wouldn’t have the same effect.
“Tough on Heinrich as he hasn’t played for quite some time, but against the All Blacks the game always opens up later on, and it’s always won or lost in the final minutes especially at Ellis Park, but that’s why Warren is on the bench, what you lose in the lineout you’ll get back at the breakdown.”
Meyer called it the ‘right’ game for Brussow to make his return. “So it’s the right game, he is very motivated, he struggled with that hand for quite some time, but we did a fitness test or two and he’s ready to go, and I’m excited to see what he can do.
“We always pride ourselves in big ball-carriers and that’s the problem at this stage and that’s why I didn’t want to go half-measures, you either have a big carrier taking you over the advantage line, and get momentum but also stop momentum on defence but at the moment there’s not one standing, so I just felt we had to change the gameplan, a different way of going into this game.
“We have to look at how we can win this game, with two open-siders and the game is always lost or won at the breakdown, playing the All Blacks, because they get quick ball and then they are very difficult to stop, so I believe it was the right choice for this game.”