The Bulls have rejected the suggestion that the potential loss of Heyneke Meyer to the Springboks will signal the end of an era.
The Bulls, under Meyer, have enjoyed a successful six-years which culminated in them becoming the first South African side to win the Super 14. He, together with a skilled support staff, has transformed the union’s structures, bringing uniformity in approach, and cultivating a winning culture from the junior ranks upwards.
But the Pretoria based team are on the brink of a new, Meyer-less, era, with the 40-year-old favourite to take the reigns from Bok coach Jake White. Many feel this, in conjunction with the fact that the Bulls have lost a host of players including Victor Matfield and Gary Botha, will herald the end of an era. But incumbent Currie Cup coach Pote Human said the structures Meyer has implemented will ensure sustained success.
“We’re all backing Heyneke to get the Bok job,” Human told keo.co.za. “There’s no doubt he’s the best coach in the country and deserves the opportunity at the highest level.
“But the Bulls won’t fall apart if Heyneke leaves. We’ll certainly miss him, but we won’t fall apart. If the Bulls back someone from within [the union] to take over from him there won’t be too much adjustment necessary from a tactical perspective because we have identical structures from U18 up to Super 14 level.
“The value of Heyneke’s plan is that it is not entirely dependent on him being around. His man management skills are what sets him apart but from a purely playing perspective we shouldn’t have too much of a problem.”
Human is said to be the Blue Bulls Rugby Union’s choice to replace Meyer should he depart. But Human has come in for heavy criticism for the Bulls inability to crack the Currie Cup final this season and is widely perceived to have neither the technical nor man-management skills to match Meyer.
But there have been mitigating factors for him. At one stage he had 27 players out, either with World Cup commitments or injured. Considering this, making the semi-final with what was effectively a third string side is a commendable feat.
“My first tournament as head coach has been responsible for that perception,” he said “Considering that we had a number of young players in the squad and a new, young captain in Derick Kuun, I was pleased with what I achieved.
“To make an accurate judgement of any coach you have to do so when he has his strongest team available. If I do get an opportunity in the Super 14, it would obviously be better to comment on my performance when I have all of our Boks at my disposal.”
The Bulls now face a month long wait before knowing the Meyer’s fate and being able to make a decision on his replacement. Human said this would have an adverse effect on their pre-season preparations which start on 12 November.
“The players want to know what is going to happen and whoever takes over obviously wants time to settle into the role,” he said.
“The sooner that situation is resolved the better for all parties concerned.”
By Ryan Vrede