No more 'home comforts' for Boks
Thu, 15 Nov 2012 13:50
These guys need to learn about playing away from home
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer wants to take South Africa's players out of their comfort zone to ensure they win more regularly on the road.
Speaking ahead of the Test against Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday, he said it is important for players to get comfortable in foreign conditions.
Meyer won his first away match, since he took over as Bok coach in January, when South Africa beat Ireland 16-12 in Dublin last week. It pushed his success rate up to 50 percent - five wins, with two draws and three defeats in his other Tests.
He admitted that South Africans are not always comfortable at playing away from home.
It is an even bigger issue when they travel to the Northern Hemisphere, where the dreich weather conditions can further dampen the players' already morbid moods.
"It is totally different," Meyer said, when asked what he hopes to get out of playing against Northern Hemisphere teams in these conditions.
"Luckily I coach for a while at Leicester [Tigers] and it was a great experience," Meyer said, adding: "It is almost two totally different types of games.
"In the Southern Hemisphere, on the dryer fields, it [a Test match] is almost like Super Rugby.
"It [the pace of the game in the south] is quick. The breakdown is not as fiercely contested and the scrums are almost just a starting point. [In the Southern Hemisphere] you play mostly from line-outs.
"If you come here [the Northern Hemisphere] every single facet of the game is a tremendous battle.
"These guys really scrum for penalties, [they don't see it as] just a restart in the game. Then, the one big difference is the breakdown. Scotland is superb at the breakdown, just look what happened against New Zealand [last week]. They are really physical at the breakdown.
"Also England and Ireland, the breakdown is also a huge contest."
Meyer also made reference to the weather conditions.
"When we go out to train, we have three layers of clothing on," the Bok mentor said, adding: "Our guys need to get used to playing in the cold.
"They don't often get the chance and they don't usually like it.
"I am trying to get them more mentally tough in that regard.
"Another aspect is that the fields are very, very wet and soft - you get injuries quite easily.
"I believe the game is more physical, because it is slower and you need a different type of player.
"These guys [the Boks] need to learn about playing away from home.
"We have really struggled playing away from home and now I can see the confidence is beginning to come.
"It is great to be here, especially with the  World Cup being here [in the Northern Hemisphere], the more we can play here the better."
He said while South African players have always been physically imposing, they need to be mentally more hardy.
"I want the guys to come over here and then it must not be a question of whether we will win or lose, it should be a question of how far we will win," Meyer said.
"I'm not being arrogant, I know we are far from that [being favourites all the time].
"I also have the utmost respect for Scotland, because I really believe they played well against New Zealand.
"I just want the [South African] players to be mentally better prepared, get out there, train in these conditions and embrace the rugby culture.
"I love Edinburgh, I have fond memories of this city as a young coach with [Pretoria] Teachers Training College.
"I also don't want the players to have a TV-game mentality [sit in their rooms and play TV games]. I want them to embrace the culture, also when they go out and train.
"By saying that, I am very happy with the spirit in the camp at the moment. A lot of the youngsters, it is their first time [on a Northern Hemisphere tour], they enjoy being here and enjoy going out.
"That is what I want them to embrace.
"It is more a mental thing, that I want them to toughen up."
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