Meyer’s fu­ture still un­cer­tain

CityPress - - Sport -

This is the most prob­a­ble in­fer­ence to be made from the re­sponses of the SA Rugby Union (Saru) and the Spring­bok team’s man­age­ment ahead of the start of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship on Satur­day.

The Spring­boks will play Aus­tralia in their open­ing game in Bris­bane in a tour­na­ment trun­cated to a sin­gle round due to the im­pend­ing World Cup in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber.

Meyer’s con­tract ex­pires af­ter the World Cup – now 68 days away – and City Press has es­tab­lished that he is in talks with Saru about an ex­ten­sion.

Un­like with Jake White and Peter de Vil­liers in the lead-up to the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, re­spec­tively, when it was made clear that their ties to the Boks would be cut, it seems the door has been left open for Meyer.

How­ever, en­quiries to Saru CEO Jurie Roux did not yield a clear-cut an­swer.

“We will make an­nounce­ments at the ap­pro­pri­ate time – but we would ask sup­port­ers to al­low us to do our work out of the public eye out of re­spect for the in­ter­ests of all par­ties,” was all he was pre­pared to say

Roux cur­rently has his own bat­tles to fight.

Last week saw the dis­missal of ref­er­ees man­ager An­dre Wat­son af­ter a Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion (CCMA) rul­ing went against him.

In the process, it was re­vealed that Roux was be­ing sued by Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity for al­leged mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of funds while he was chair­per­son of the Maties rugby club.

Meyer, in the midst of pre­par­ing his team for their first game of the sea­son against the World 15 at New­lands yesterday, was un­avail­able for com­ment and team man­ager Ian Schwartz was un­able to cast any light on whether the coach would be stay­ing on or not.

How­ever, the fact that Meyer is in­volved in talks would in­di­cate that an ex­ten­sion of his con­tract is be­ing ne­go­ti­ated – rather than a de­par­ture.

But the fact that it is still up in the air means the coach, like many of the play­ers, is un­set­tled as the build-up to the World Cup be­gins in earnest.

The back­drop of a crit­i­cal list of in­juries is not ideal as the Boks pre­pare to take on the Wal­la­bies, the All Blacks and Ar­gentina in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

Their only away game will be the forth­com­ing test against the Wal­la­bies at a venue where they have of­ten strug­gled – the Sun­corp Sta­dium in Bris­bane.

It will be a tough en­counter. against an Aus­tralian col­lec­tive com­ing off a poor Su­per Rugby cam­paign, with coach Michael Cheika un­der pres­sure to pro­duce re­sults.

Though Meyer has in­di­cated that vic­tory in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship may have to be writ­ten off in favour of turn­ing it into a World Cup­prepa­ra­tion ex­er­cise, Cheika will be out to get the Wal­la­bies back on the win­ning track.

In­stead of nurs­ing his play­ers, the tough-talk­ing Cheika wants his men to gain a psy­cho­log­i­cal lift by beat­ing the All Blacks and the Spring­boks – es­pe­cially as the Aus­tralians are drawn in the World Cup’s tough­est pool, where they will meet Eng­land and Wales.

Although the Aus­tralians strug­gled through Su­per Rugby, they can put to­gether a for­mi­da­ble test team.

With world-rated play­ers Is­rael Fo­lau, David Po­cock, Te­vita Kuridrani and Kurt­ley Beale be­ing bol­stered by new caps such as Taqele Nai­yar­a­voro and the re­turn of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell from France, it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult for the Boks to tie down the Wal­la­bies.

The All Blacks, how­ever, still reign supreme, hav­ing won the Rugby Cham­pi­onship three times in suc­ces­sion since the Tri-Na­tions was ex­panded in 2012 to in­clude the Ar­gen­tinian Pu­mas.


HARD PLAY Head coach Heyneke Meyer (left) chats with as­sis­tant coach Jo­hann van Graan ahead of the World

15 match

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