Meyer has his work cut out

2012-01-28 16:41

On Friday, Heyneke Meyer finally got the post that for political reasons, he didn’t get four years ago. And he got it on merit.

This time the South African Rugby Union (Saru) followed through professionally and without controversy a process that was set in motion as far back as June 9 last year, culminating in the appointment of Meyer as the Springbok coach.

Peter de Villiers, who despite his controversial appointment, led South Africa to trophies and victories in New Zealand, was given a cordial farewell and thanked for making the Boks “the whole country’s team”.

However, if Meyer thought that acceptance and respect that the Boks enjoy across racial barriers these days would ease the pressure on him in any way, he must have been given a good idea on Friday of what he will be facing over the next four years.

No fewer than six questions at the first news conference with Saru’s CEO, Jurie Roux, and president, Oregan Hoskins, dealt with transformation. That’s not counting the questions that led to:

“Does Saru not think they made a mistake?”

“Were there any black candidates?”

“Is this not a step backward?”

And, to crown it all: “Will there ever be a coloured trainer, and how soon will that be?”

It could be said that such questions reflect the poor quality of elements of the Cape rugby media, but Meyer now knows better than ever that the number of black players in his team will be closely monitored.

Does Meyer feel wronged that this honour did not come his way four years ago? “For me it’s not a matter of right or wrong. You are dealt a hand and you have to make the best of it,” Meyer told City Press.

After that, Meyer immediately shifted his focus back to rugby – to a question ironically, after four years, about the pressure of time.

“The difficult thing for a Bok coach is that he doesn’t have time. I am used to the Bulls where I have six to eight weeks for preparation. You practise the players into the ground and then you get an insight into their character. Now you start on a Monday and on Saturday the team plays.

“I know that from now on it is only going to become more difficult and that South Africans have great ideals, dreams and high standards. My hope is that I won’t disappoint them.

“I feel my time has come.”

Meyer said he would “travel to every corner of the world” to put the strongest possible Bok team in the field.

Meyer wants to include Boks playing overseas in his plan to be in contact with every South African player.

“I think I’ll work myself to death, but I want to go and see every possible player. I want to know where they stand and how they feel,” Meyer said.

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