Heyneke Meyer wants to make the Leicester Tigers the best club team in the world.
Meyer and Leicester’s competitive season begins on Sunday against Gloucester. After his predecessor, Marcelo Loffreda, lasted less than a year, there is pressure on Meyer to deliver in his first season at the helm. Moreover, Meyer wants the Tigers to set the standard in the Premiership and across Europe throughout his next three years in charge.
“My long-term goal is to make Leicester the best club side in the world,” Meyer told The Guardian.
“We should be able to achieve that in my time here. When I left the Bulls after winning the Super 14 last year and failed to get the job of South Africa coach, I thought my time in rugby was over. I turned down a number of offers from international and club sides. Then Leicester came in, a club which shares my vision and values, and here I am.”
Meyer’s vision and values include success via hard work. This is epitomised by the coach’s current injury, where he ruptured his Achilles tendon during training last week. “It was a sort of race. Put it down to team-building. I will be in plaster for six weeks and then see how it goes,” he said.
With these core values in mind, Meyer will only sign players who are willing to put the collective before the individual. “We need a wing because of all the injuries we have: we will take our time because as well as being a world-class player, the guy must fit into the values of the club. Individualism must not come before the team. Every aspect of Leicester and everything we do must be totally professional,” said Meyer.
“It [the English season] will be a new experience for me, but I have watched a lot of Premiership rugby in recent years. It is different to the Currie Cup because it has 12 good teams in it. The English season is tough because three competitions overlap and you have international calls, but we have drawn up plans and we have a very strong squad,” he said.
Much has been talked about the new attacking inclinations of teams under the ELVs, but a pragmatic Meyer noted how sides have to play to their traditional strengths. “We will change tactically, improving when it comes to intensity, skill levels and try scoring, but you always have to play to your strengths.”
Meyer left South Africa having nurtured the best provincial side in the world. You wouldn’t bet against him revitalising a tiring Leicester outfit into the flagship team of Europe.