Meyer set for second stint

Heyneke Meyer is set to remain at the helm of the Springboks despite the defeat to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final, reports JON CARDINELLI in London.

The Boks went down 20-18 to the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday. The loss brings an end to their title race, if not their time at the tournament. They will feature in the third-place play-off at Olympic Park next Friday.

That Test match is unlikely to be Meyer’s last at the helm. understands that he has signed a contract extension, and will continue to coach the Boks in 2016.

Following the defeat to the All Blacks, Meyer was asked to comment on his future. The Bok coach smiled before attempting to dodge the question.

‘You really need to ask Saru that question,’ he said. ‘I’ve always said that I’m here to serve South African rugby. I really believe in this team and that they can win [the next global tournament].’

Bok captain Fourie du Preez, who has played under three different coaches during his 11-year Test career, believes that the decision to stick with the coach may benefit the side in the long run.

’At some stage, Saru needs to look for continuity and not to just change coaches after World Cups,’ Du Preez said. 'Maybe they should consider appointing coaches two years before a World Cup until two years after a World Cup, because having uncertainty over your future puts pressure on the coaching staff in the build-up to a World Cup.

‘Heyneke pulled us together as a team after the loss to Japan, and the margin between winning and losing to New Zealand was very small,’ Du Preez added.

Meyer warmed to the subject of the future of this team, and exactly who could feature in 2016 and beyond.

Much has been made about the ageing players that did duty at the 2015 World Cup. There are, however, a number of youngsters who made an impression and will have a key role to play over the next four years.

‘If you look at the team [that played at this tournament], about 80% of them could be at the next World Cup. This can be one of the best teams in the world,’ he said.

‘Handré Pollard is only 21, but he was brilliant. Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel showed what they can do, and those two young locks [Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager] were outstanding. Frans Malherbe is another youngster who really took his chance.

‘They will just get better over the next four years. They will learn a lot from this experience. The seniors got us back on track at this tournament, but there is a lot to be excited about regarding the junior players who will take the team forward in 2016.’

Meyer’s opposite number, Steve Hansen, spent the first five minutes of the All Blacks press conference praising the Springboks. The head coach of the No 1-ranked side in the world, a side that is now on the verge of claiming a second consecutive world title, said this semi-final highlighted the strength of southern hemisphere rugby.

‘When two teams enjoy a battle like this, it’s just a shame that one has to lose,’ said Hansen. ‘It could have gone either way, and so we are humbled to go through to the final.

‘We need to pay homage to South Africa. The Rugby Championship has been given a few smacks in this part of the world [the northern hemisphere], but the game we witnessed today was special. There was physicality and there was skill. It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge what is a very good South African side.’

Photo: Chris Lee/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli