Heyneke’s 'adapt or go' threat

2012-01-27 16:02
Heyneke Meyer (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – New Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s first Test in charge of his team looms more as a hand grenade than a gift beautifully wrapped in gold paper.

When the national team tackles England in the first of three Tests over consecutive Saturdays, in Durban on June 9, it will be straight off several gruelling months – never mind just weeks – of non-stop Super Rugby activity.

There is not even the luxury of a bye weekend to make the switch to international mindset this year, nor some sort of “soft” Springbok start-out game against a Canada or Tonga, as has often been the trend previously.

It is straight into battle with those white-jerseyed historical foes, currently fifth and just one spot shy of the Boks on the IRB rankings. 

As Meyer pointed out, two South African conference derbies – Bulls v Stormers and Lions v Sharks -- the week ahead of the first Test only aggravate the situation.

But he told Sport24 on Friday, after the dust had settled on his announcement to the position: “If a guy can’t switch on to play for his country in the space of a week then he won’t play in the team.

“It’s not my job to switch the guys on; if they don’t want to play for their country they can stay at their franchises. I just believe it means the world to play for your land.

“It is a huge challenge and no doubt there will be some injuries to contend with or learn about on the Monday (ahead of the Durban Test) so that’s not ideal, but it’s no use shaping some excuses – that’s the hand I’ve been dealt and I must just play the cards.

“We need to do a lot of planning beforehand to make certain we have a good chance of beating England in game one ... it would be naive for me to think I could just start (preparation) on the Monday and beat England on the Saturday.”

Asked how SARU would assist in integrating Meyer’s first Bok charges as seamlessly as possible under the tricky circumstances, CEO Jurie Roux told Sport24: “He’ll obviously have to present us with his plan of how to quickly create that team environment.

“Normally that might entail some camps upfront, maybe getting the players together on a Sunday after Super Rugby matches; just getting them to buy into the philosophy.

“Possibly it could be broken up into groups; (Meyer) go and see the Sharks, and then the Bulls and Stormers, and so on. If that is roughly his approach we will give him all the resources within our means and budget to carry it out.

“Hopefully we can assist through our relationships with the CEOs, presidents and coaches and get to a result that is positive for everybody.”

Asked about the possibility of some co-operative Super Rugby “resting” of certain players in the lead-up to the Test series, depending on conference log situation, player workload and the like, he added: “In terms of our SANZAR agreement we are not allowed to rest players so that’s not an option.

“We are allowed to rotate players, so maybe we can work with the unions in ensuring that in the last two or three weeks (before the Tests) the rotation is in such a way that certain players are kept suitably (fresh).”


Read more on:    heyneke meyer  |  springboks  |  rugby

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