‘Springbulls’ coach defends his decisions

2012-04-21 17:58

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has defended what some have called the “Bullsification” of the national team.

Speaking to City Press after a breakfast hosted in his honour in Sandton on Friday, Meyer said his move made sense given that he had little time to prepare ahead of the three-Test series against England in June.

“You want to pick a coaching staff that you can trust and I have got a lot of respect for some of the guys I’ve worked with and some I have coached against,” he said.

He qualified his actions, adding: “I must do what is best for the team and I have always picked who I think is the best for the team. If you look at the coaching team, they have won three Super Rugby titles, six Currie Cups, two Vodacom Cups and a Varsity Cup (among them).

“Rassie (Erasmus) is a world-class coach and I have got the best conditioners involved.”

The Bulls-heavy coaching staff that Meyer has assembled includes defence coach John McFarland, backline coach Ricardo Loubscher, forwards coach Johann van Graan and conditioning coach Basil Carzis.

This has also led to the belief that the Springboks – or is it now the Springbulls – will adopt the physical, abrasive style the Pretoria franchise is famous for.

But Meyer rejected the notion, saying that he just wanted to play winning rugby.

Meyer steered clear of talking about the return of retired former Bulls captain Victor Matfield, who this week told Rugby365.com that he would only consider rescinding his retirement under his former mentor.

The coach said he did not get clearance from the South African Rugby Union (Saru) to talk about the issue, only saying fit locks were an issue in South African rugby.

“Saru won’t allow me to answer questions about Matfield, but there are a lot of injuries at the moment, so I’m going to look at all players. I haven’t got any players in mind,” he said.

This was disputed by Saru corporate affairs general manger Andy Colquhoun, who said: “It is up to Meyer to comment or not to.”

Some have pointed out that Meyer came into the job very late, especially after trenching the foundations and making the Blue Bulls brand what it is today.

Those who subscribe to this school of thought are of the view that he should have been offered the post four years ago.

There is consensus that he is the perfect man to salvage the Boks’ battered image after a roller coaster ride under former coach Pieter de Villiers.

He has been with the Bulls through thick – winning three consecutive Currie Cups and a Super Rugby title – and thin, when the side lost 11 consecutive Super Rugby matches in 2002.

Meyer said he would stick to what got him to the top job instead of changing his ways.

“I’m just going to do what I found worked for me. Even if there is criticism I must do what works for me. A lot of coaches change the formula that got them to the top. At least I know that it was a success – if it does not work, then I know it was what I believed in.”

With a keen eye for youthful talent, Meyer said he preferred to have an inexperienced but talented player that he could mould rather than a journeyman who was already set in his ways, adding that he would be keeping an eye on the upcoming IRB Junior World Championships to be held in Stellenbosch in June.

“There is winning rugby and losing rugby, so whatever it takes to win is the way I want to play,” said Meyer.

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