‘I want to return to South Africa’ – Ex-Springboks coach eager to ‘make a difference’ on home soil

Dylan Coetzee

Heyneke Meyer looks on.

Former Springboks head coach Heyneke Meyer is looking to return home to South Africa at the end of his contract with Major League Rugby side Houston SaberCats.

Meyer’s contract with the MLR team runs out at the end of the season with the South African admitting he wants to leave the club despite their 11 wins this campaign being a club record.

Wants to make a difference

The ex-Bulls boss underlined why he coaches, which is to make a difference rather than win trophies. which is something he wants to do back in South Africa.

“I am contracted to the Houston SaberCats until the end of this year. But then I want to finish,” Meyer told Rapport.

“I coach to make a difference. Winning a trophy is a bonus. My heart lies in South Africa. I would love to make a difference there. I am proudly South African.”

Eyes for home

Meyer believes his strength is transforming team culture for sides that are not performing well and very clearly outlined that he would “seriously consider” any opportunity available in South Africa.

“My strong point is turning teams around. I like to take teams that are down,” he explained.

“I haven’t made a final decision yet. I would like to coach in South Africa. At least I still stay in South Africa for at least six months a year. I want to return to South Africa. If there is an opportunity, I will seriously consider it.

“My strong point is to turn teams around. I like to take teams that are down. In such circumstances you can bring in your own players and establish a culture.”

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Coaching set-up

As mentioned, the current season for Meyer’s SaberCats is a record-breaking one which he puts down to his coaching team of Pote Human, Vic Meyer and Ryan Nell.

“This is a dream season for us. We are very blessed. It’s a young team that improves every week,” says the coach.

“I thought we would have a good season, but didn’t think it would go this well. I did much the same here as at the Bulls – by starting to build from the bottom up.

“Much of our success is due to our management team.

“I appointed Pote and Vic. Also ex-Blitzbok Ryan Nell, who handles our defence.

“I am very proud of their mentorship as coaches. Our coaches understand each other.

“We have no stars in our team. We have an incredible culture. The challenge is the different nationalities of the players, but our culture is very good.”

American difficulties

Meyer also opened up on the challenges of leading an American side, from the short season to the travel concerns and lack of media coverage.

“What makes it especially difficult in America is that the season is only six months long,” Meyer said.

“For six months you play and for six months the players are off. The players then do not play rugby and go to do other work. So you have no stability.

“You don’t realize the place is so big. It’s a miracle that we won seven away games.

“When we play against Seattle, you fly seven hours. It’s not business class.

“Two away games in a row is challenging. We also don’t have a team manager. As coaches, you have to arrange the food for away games yourself.

“The player groups are small. The administrative staff in the offices is small. However, I enjoy trying to make a difference.

“There is not a lot of media. The game doesn’t get a lot of exposure. For example, I haven’t attended a news conference this year.

“Something that’s nice is that the American players want to learn.”

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