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Mark Keohane

Meyer’s Boks in good shape


Heyneke Meyer at a Bok press conference Heyneke Meyer at a Bok press conference

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has created a winning culture, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day newspaper.

The whispers are Meyer will be the first Springbok coach in the professional era to be given successive four-year terms. The official confirmation can’t be made soon enough.

Meyer, as I understand, will be reappointed before next year’s World Cup and it will be reward for what he has built in the last three seasons. His second term will not be subject to the Springboks winning the World Cup.

And it’s about time that game’s administration showed such maturity in the decision-making.

Jake White should have had a second term post the 2007 World Cup success. Administrative agendas and immaturity among the elected officials who serve as provincial presidents meant White had no chance of being reappointed.

He had clashed with the administration, had been critical of Saru president Oregan Hoskins and had made his views very public.

Hoskins and the game’s suited leadership were not even at the Boks’ World Cup hotel celebration on the night the Boks beat England in Paris to win the World Cup.

White, outstanding at the Brumbies and equally impressive at the Sharks in this season’s Super Rugby, will have no chance of coaching the Springboks while Hoskins is still involved. But hopefully he will not be lost to South African rugby and he will continue with the Sharks in 2015 and may even find comfort in the challenge of the Stormers post 2015.

White has always stated he wants to coach the Springboks again. He has also said he wants to coach internationally, but the options are limited. He was promised the Wallabies job but never given it and the All Blacks will not appoint a foreigner.

White’s only hope would be England should Stuart Lancaster lose favour and be axed. I say this because White has said he would only want to coach a country he believed had the capability to win a World Cup.

For now he remains in South Africa and his contribution at the Sharks has been good for South African rugby and has been to the benefit of Meyer, whose tenure has been one of consistency, clarity, integrity and delivery.

The All Blacks remain the one team Meyer’s Springboks have yet to beat, but two of the four defeats could have been Bok victories. Ironically, both times the Boks were in a position to win were in New Zealand and the All Blacks produced two stunning performances to beat the Boks at Soccer City and at Ellis Park.

The win against the All Blacks will come because there is very little to choose between the two sides. Both are quality sides and Meyer has found the consistency in success that has been the sole domain of the All Blacks.

Meyer, on his appointment, said his style of rugby would be ‘winning rugby’. He said the best team, where possible, would play and that he did not believe in gifting the Bok jersey in the name of experimentation and a four-year World Cup cycle.

He said that any one of four teams could win the World Cup, possibly even five, and that the rugby public were owed week in and week out performances; not the promise of one big one at the World Cup.

Meyer spoke of a winning culture and a winning habit. He spoke of the privilege of playing for South Africa and he wanted every South African player to be eligible, regardless of where the player was based. Meyer felt that the best should play and that Test rugby was a representation of selecting the best player in that position.

He said if the team started winning consistently it would mean they went to a World Cup with belief and conviction and not just hope.

Amen brother.

He also stated that the Springboks, like the All Blacks, should be winning 75-80% of their Test matches. So far he’s achieved in every sense.

There is integrity in the jersey, there is integrity in the selection and there is a winning culture and a winning habit.

The Boks are in good shape. Meyer has built depth in the squad and he has rewarded local and foreign-based players who have excelled. He has blooded a team of youngsters and recalled a team of World Cup-winning veterans.

His team plays good and intelligent rugby and technically the Boks have improved at the breakdown and still need to improve with their line-kicking and tactical-kicking game.

But they play impressive rugby, just as the Bulls did when they dominated Super Rugby.

Bok rugby has never been healthier and the reward for Meyer should be that Saru’s decision-makers make his reappointment official sooner rather than later.

Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

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