Johannesburg - Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has moved to reassure those who see his management team as a “Blue Boks” outfit that they are overreacting.
The Bok coach did confirm that both his assistants Johan van Graan and Ricardo Loubscher as well as defensive coach John McFarland and conditioning coach Bazil Carsils would come from the Bulls on the same night as former WP Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was appointed to head the High Performance unit at SARU.
But Meyer said that his coaching team were chosen from both coaches that were the best in the country, and those who he was comfortable with. He also pointed out that the first two coaches he called were Erasmus and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, the latter who declined to join the coaching team.
“From day one we said we want to do what is best for SA Rugby if we want to consistently beat teams like Australia and New Zealand,” Meyer explained, “People are just pointing to the four Blue Bulls coaches but I went with a list to (SARU CEO) Jurie Roux with a lot of names, and Rassie was there from day one as well.
“I don’t want people to make this a Blue Bull focus. The one thing we did right was keep the continuity in the management team. If you look at the medical staff, a lot of the guys have been there for the previous four years as well, as well as the rest of the administrative staff.
“I think it’s a well-represented management team and at the end you need to work with guys you trust, because you don’t have a lot of time. We have a week before our first test against England and we’re only starting now. The pressure is now on me to provide the goods on the table.”
Meyer also said he had opted for a home-grown coaching staff after some may have thought he would look overseas for some of the consultants he would use.
“I’ve looked worldwide. I’ve said to Jurie previously if it was four years ago, I would have probably used a few more overseas coaches but I truly believe that although I’ve worked with a lot of great overseas coaches, we’ve got great talent over here and I want to give them the opportunity,” said Meyer.
“In the end you win trophies from the heart, and these guys – it includes Rassie as well – are very loyal to South Africa, and it’s important to me that we’ve got the passion to win and the mindset to win. Wherever I need to make use of overseas guys I will do that. I’m happy with this coaching team and feel it’s the best around.”
Meyer also addressed the fact that he had “stolen” some of the Bulls intellectual property midway during the Super Rugby season, especially in such a critical year for local franchises.
“It is important that every franchise does well and the last thing I want to do is to take away from any franchise and make them weaker. I have been involved with the Bulls in the past and know they have very good structures. I am convinced that there are very good coaches that will move up. A lot of these guys have been with the Bulls for more than 10 years now and I think they are looking forward to a new challenge,” he added.
“Part of the coaching plan is that most of these guys – including Rassie and other consultants – are pushed into the field and get out to all the franchises, because you have so little time. These guys won’t be lost to the Bulls, but they will also be helping out the other franchises with the bigger picture.
“I have a lot of confidence in a guy like Frans Ludeke and know he will do well. There are a lot of good people still at Loftus and the Bulls have top class junior structures and I am full of confidence they will continue to do well.”
Meyer’s Bulls contingent, which so much fuss has been made of in other parts of the country, is just four strong in a management of 20. Despite the mutterings though he knows all too well that success on the field will determine his legacy.
Meyer has now got the coaching staff he wanted. His biggest challenge now is to meet the high standards he, and the rest of the country, expect of them.