LONDON – Heyneke Meyer concedes he has made a lot of mistakes as South Africa coach, but wants to put a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign behind them and be given the opportunity to take the Springboks to the next level.
South Africa, which was beaten by Japan in its World Cup opener, lost in the semifinals to New Zealand and will play Argentina in Friday’s third-place playoff.
Meyer’s position will be reviewed by the South African Rugby Union in December but he made it clear he believed he is the right man to take the team forward.
“It is easy to criticize and obviously I’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I want to be part of the solution and see the youngsters come through,” Meyer told reporters.
“I will always regret I couldn’t win it (the World Cup) for my country and I will always believe in this team. I just believe they are going to get better.
“This team will be invincible if they can go forward and keep them together.”
Meyer came under intense scrutiny after the stunning loss to Japan and said the pressure of the job got to him at times.
“I think you have to be crazy and you have to love people. I’m totally crazy and I’m a total nutter,” he said with a smile.
The 48-year-old added that the protests and threat of court action over the racial make-up of his squad before the team left South Africa illustrated the unique challenges of the job.
“I do take it personally. This World Cup was really tough — people were burning jerseys before you start, people wanted to take you to court before you start,” he said.
Despite the disappointments and sleepless nights, Meyer said he was driven to keep going by the love South Africa has for the Springboks.
“We drove from Ellis Park and there was a poor beggar on crutches with only one leg and once the Springbok bus drove past, he left everything, fell on his knees and we could see we made a difference.
“This week there was a girl with cancer who wrote to us.
“Those are the things that keep you going. Sometimes you walk out and there are people waiting hours for you to get a signature and you think, ‘Why do you want my signature? I just cost the country the biggest trophy in the world.’ “