Heyneke 'takes it on the chin'

Wed, 07 Nov 2012 06:24
Large meyer training630 Large heyneke meyer media2 630 Large heyneke meyer on phone 630

The tallest trees catch the most wind. This adage is very apt for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and a maxim that he is all too familiar with.

The tallest trees catch the most wind. This adage is very apt for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and a maxim that he is all too familiar with.

With a win record of just over 44 percent, since he took over from Peter de Villiers as the mentor of South Africa's national team in January, criticism from the media and public is par for the course.

Even the virulent nature of some of the critique is something he has become used to. He had to deal with similar insults during his days as a successful Super Rugby coach with the Bulls.

That is why Meyer takes all these barbs in his stride.

"I have said from the outset it is a huge honour to coach for my country," the Bok mentor said, when asked about the brickbats flying in his direction.

"I am not a guy who thinks he knows everything," Meyer said, adding: "I have made a lot of mistakes and I will take that on the chin.

"I have spoken to a lot of coaches and players out there.

"Obviously you want to improve, but first you have to put the basics in place."

While Meyer readily admits that some of the criticism may be justified, he feels some of it is ill-informed.

"The one criticism I sometimes feel is unjust, is that we kick too much," the Bok mentor said.

"If you look at the six Tests matches we played in the Rugby Championship, we kicked less than the opposition and the All Blacks kicked 13 more kicks than us.

"Against Australia [in Pretoria] we scored five reasonably good tries and we missed three [opportunities]. Everybody said that was a bad Australian side. Then they [the Wallabies] go out and draw with New Zealand and the All Blacks don't score a try. Suddenly I don't hear New Zealand is conservative and they don't play great rugby.

"Obviously you want to grow as a coach and as a team and obviously you want to score more tries.

"However, look at the [2011] World Cup Final - New Zealand scored one try through a line-out and won 8-7 and it is said to be one of the best games in the history of the tournament.

"It [Test rugby] is all about winning.

"You can play any-which-way, you simply have to win and that is what we are aiming for.

"We do want to play better rugby. However, we have been together for only nine Test matches - it sounds a lot, but you get some players just a few days before the Test and have just two sessions.

"I am very positive and I have been in this position before.

"We know where we want to go. We have brought in a number of youngsters and that is one of my goals - to have them there at the World Cup.

"A lot of these guys will be 24 and have played 35 Test matches, then suddenly you have a team and a lot of depth.

"I feel we have achieved a lot [already], but I am never satisfied. I have high standards and I want to win every single game.

"We were in a position to win every single game, but the one thing that let us down in 90 percent of the games was our goal-kicking that should have been better.

"It is not conservative or expansive rugby, you have to kick your goals and that is one thing you need to rectify."

Speaking about the Boks' goals for their three-Test tour - which will see them take on Ireland (November 10), Scotland (November 17) and England (November 24) - said part of it is looking towards the 2015 World Cup in England.

"Long term, there are a lot of youngsters coming through," Meyer said, adding: "It is very exciting to get a youngsters like Raymond Rhule in, who is an exciting and promising player.

"We have to get those guys into the squad and system.

"Obviously we also want to win every single game.

"We haven't been unbeaten on a year-end-tour for some time [since 2008] and we obviously want to go through [the trip] unbeaten.

"The main thing for me is that I have said I was going to use this entire year to look at players - the home-based and overseas players.

"On this tour I have used a few overseas-based players, especially forwards and look at them.

"Then also, the [2015] World Cup will be in England. You want to see which players can play in these tough conditions, it is a very different type of game. You want to see which players can play away from home and which players are mentally tough [enough] to tour.

"The most important part for me is that after this first year I will know which are the players I can use going forward."

By Jan de Koning