Bulls

Meyer to ‘discuss’ his Bulls future

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Heyneke Meyer, one of the most successful coaches in the history of South African rugby and the first coach in 14 years to bring a Super rugby title to South African soil, will be involved in some intense discussions with his bosses in the next few weeks.

At the centre of these discussions will be Meyer’s future as a Bulls coach.

Speaking after his team’s dramatic 20-19 victory over the Sharks in the first all-South African Super rugby final in Durban at the weekend, Meyer said he will have to think “long and hard” about the road ahead.

Obviously he is keen on continuing with the team he has taken to five Currie Cup finals, two Super rugby semi-finals and now to the ultimate prize in provincial rugby – the Super 14 winners medal.

However, he will first have to thrash out some details of his “working conditions” with the very same people who were ready to let him go last year when he insisted on doing it his way.

Meyer was not a universally popular man among Pretoria’s often unprogressive administrators when he insisted on handing over the Currie Cup reins to Pote Human so he could spend more time planning.

However, now that he has brought the ultimate prize to Pretoria rugby’s headquarters, Loftus Versfeld, those same people would surely look more favourable at Meyer’s suggestions of how to move on from here.

“I will enjoy this [the Super 14 victory] for now, but Monday and Tuesday we’ll have [some] discussions and hear what is the road ahead,” Meyer told this website on Sunday.

“But at this stage I’ll enjoy the victory. I’ll first start with the Currie Cup preparations and then start having some discussions,” he added.

Meyer made it clear that it is not about “chasing records” for him, but rather ensuring the team is as well prepared as it could be.

“It’s always been an honour to be involved with this team and I truly believe you must be able to give 100 per cent of your time [to coaching the team], or you shouldn’t coach,” Meyer said.

The Bulls coach also made it clear that retaining the Super 14 title will be a tall order – in fact it will be much tougher retaining it than it was winning it for the first time.

“The hard work really starts now that we are champions,” he said – using the team’s four Currie Cup titles (three outright and one shared) as an example of how being a champion makes you a target for other teams the next year.

“There’s still a long way to go for us and I don’t believe in sitting back. Other teams will be better next year and target us, so it’s up to us to go harder now and look for areas of our game to improve.”

But he also took time out to reflect on the success of the past season.

“It certainly could have gone either way,” he said of their one-point win in the Final.

“However, I told the team this was a year to fight hard. We had a very slow start, but then beat three teams in Australasia and three teams we’ve never beaten before.

“We came back [to South Africa] and needed 20 points to reach the play-offs … we got full marks. We needed 72 points against Reds and got more than that,” he said, adding that he felt reaching those goals is what “won” them the Super 14 title, because the players realised that if they truly believed then the goals were indeed obtainable.

“I always felt that if we have a home semi-final and face the Sharks [even in an away final] we had a shot.

“We needed to beat the champions [Crusaders] at Loftus [in the semi-final] and that was a big ask. An away final is also very tough. Our whole year was a fight, but it builds character and team spirit and that was the difference between the two teams at the end,” Meyer said.

Speaking of that final move, in which wing Bryan Habana scored and fly-half Derick Hougaard slotted the winning conversion well after the full-time hooter had already sounded, Meyer said his team knew they could do it … even though others thought the game was over.

“It may sound arrogant, but my instructions to the team were: ‘There is one minute left, we will score, we must just keep believing.’

“We needed to stay positive,” he said, citing a story he had used several times in the last few weeks about the success of the 7up cold drink.

In brief it comes down to a man who started with ‘One Up’ as a name for the cold drink and failed. He then tried ‘Two Up’ and went bust again. He did this six times (to Six Up) and then just sold the company because he thought it would never work.

The guy who bought it from him renamed the drinks 7up and today it is one of the world’s biggest success stories.

“In my vocabulary there is no such thing as giving up.

“I’ve been fired twice as coach in the Super 14 and came back each time.

“That is how I live my life, I just don’t give up.

“This is what the Bulls are all about – playing for each other and standing together.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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