Meyer re­gains his ap­petite for rugby

CityPress - - Sport - HEN­DRIK CRONJE sports@city­press.co.za

The for­mer Spring­bok coach has re­cently been de­vot­ing much of his at­ten­tion to his fam­ily and east­ern Free State game farm at Memel, but now, a few months af­ter the World Cup, he wants to be­come in­volved in the game again as quickly as pos­si­ble. He hasn’t yet signed an of­fi­cial agree­ment with any club, but City Press sta­ble­mate Rap­port has learnt that there is strong in­ter­est in his ser­vices, es­pe­cially from Ja­pan.

Two Ja­panese clubs, Canon Ea­gles and Docomo Red Hur­ri­canes, are men­tioned as pos­si­ble op­tions. A move to a Euro­pean club is also not ex­cluded.

This af­ter Meyer re­leased a joint press state­ment with the SA Rugby Union (Saru) last year that he would not ap­ply to ex­tend his term as Spring­bok coach.

There were doubts at the time about whether he would be­come in­volved in rugby at any level again soon.

Be­fore this an­nounce­ment, how­ever, more than one lo­cal rugby writer re­ported that the 48-year-old Meyer’s Spring­bok con­tract had been ex­tended be­fore the start of the World Cup.

There has since been con­sid­er­able spec­u­la­tion about whether Meyer was given a golden hand­shake worth mil­lions of rands be­cause Saru was un­der pres­sure to get rid of him. In re­sponse to a re­cent en­quiry by Rap­port, Saru did not deny th­ese al­le­ga­tions, al­though his con­tract would have ended “of­fi­cially” af­ter the World Cup.

A Saru spokesper­son said no con­clu­sions should be drawn from its re­fusal to deny the sug­ges­tion of a golden hand­shake.

Saru’s only re­sponse was: “We have no com­ment on the sug­ges­tion, ex­cept to con­firm our pol­icy that we do not com­ment on the con­tract of any em­ployee [player, coach or staff mem­ber].”

Meyer’s pos­si­ble move to Ja­pan is no sur­prise, since there is cur­rently no room for him in the Bulls’ struc­tures.

Dur­ing the World Cup, Nol­lis Marais was ap­pointed the Bulls’ Su­per Rugby coach and will be given a fair chance to make his mark.

Meyer is ap­par­ently now also too ex­pen­sive for the Bulls, who re­cently got rid of sev­eral big names to pro­vide re­lief for their bud­get. This could change if he is will­ing to earn less money.

Ja­panese club teams have a fa­mous love af­fair with South African coaches.

Two South Africans, Al­bert van den Berg and Kees Lens­ing, were in­volved in the coach­ing of the Canon Ea­gles’ for­wards in the past sea­son.

Sev­eral other well-known coaches, such as one of the strong­est con­tenders to be Meyer’s Bok suc­ces­sor, Al­lis­ter Coetzee (Kobe Steel Ko­belco Steel­ers), are ei­ther al­ready there or will be coach­ing there in fu­ture. The rest of the list in­cludes Os du Randt (Toy­ota Verblitz), Jimmy Stone­house (Toshiba Brave Lu­pus) and Hugh Reece-Ed­wards (NTT Shin­ing Arcs).

Mean­while, one of the mem­bers of Meyer’s Bok man­age­ment team, Craig Roberts, is mak­ing a name for him­self in the English Premier League as a team doc­tor. A few weeks af­ter the World Cup, Roberts joined Bournemouth, and, since his ar­rival there The Cher­ries have al­ready achieved a 2-1 vic­tory over Manch­ester United.

PHOTO: STEVE HAAG / GALLO IM­AGES

COME­BACK KID Heyneke Meyer could coach in Ja­pan soon

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