Leicester Tigers coach Heyneke Meyer has his sights set on creating history by winning the European Cup this season.
After capturing the Super 14 crown with the Blue Bulls in 2007, Meyer is now bidding to become the first coach to win the premier competitions of both the northern and southern hemispheres.
The Tigers have been drawn in a tough group including Italians Treviso, Dan Carter’s new club Perpignan and Welsh side Ospreys. Meyer’s side’s first encounter is against Ospreys at Welford Road this Sunday and he is under no illusions as to the task they face.
“The Heineken Cup was one of the attractions for me coming to work in Europe,” Meyer told Sky Sports. “It’s a huge challenge for any team. It’s a round-robin competition and a knock-out all in one.
“That makes it a really tough competition to win and you need to be 100 percent in every game.”
Meyer is one of the most successful coaches in South African rugby having lead the Bulls to five consecutive Currie Cup finals, besides capturing the Super 14 title last year. Whether he can replicate this success on the European stage remains to be seen, but the 40-year-old is excited to see how his side fares against the top clubs on the continent.
“I’ve been involved in the top competition in the southern hemisphere and I am looking forward to being involved in the top competition in the northern hemisphere,” he said.
“There are more teams involved from more countries in the Heineken Cup and I am looking forward to seeing different players and teams from different cultures.
“It’s going to be an interesting challenge. There is no doubt the Heineken Cup is a top competition and it’s going to grow in stature and get better and better because so many of the world’s top players are involved.
“Even in places like South Africa the profile of the Heineken Cup is growing. I remember watching the Munster-Toulouse final at home. With all those supporters there it was a great spectacle – there is a great vibe about the Heineken Cup.”
Despite all his success with the Bulls, Meyer admits he thought about quiting the game altogether after missing out on the position of Springbok coach, but is now focused on turning the Tigers into world-beaters.
“When I left the Bulls after winning the Super 14 last year and failed to get the job of South African coach, I thought my time in rugby was over,” he added.
“I had been a coach since I was 20 and I got out of the game by taking charge of a sports nutrition company and 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. My long-term goal is to make Leicester the best club side in the world. We should be able to achieve that in my time here.”