Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday defended himself against allegations that he been too conservative during his up-and-down first few months in charge of the national team.
He also confessed to having made “a lot of mistakes; I’ll take that on the chin” and said that he was “not a guy who knows everything”.
At a media briefing at the Boks’ Waterfront hotel here, ahead of the three-Test tour of Ireland, Scotland and England, Meyer said candidly that he took great pride in his post and had spoken to many coaches and players in his endeavour to improve the team’s fortunes.
“First you have to put the basics in place, and (it is difficult) when you haven’t always had the same team.
“The one criticism I sometimes feel is unjust is that we kick too much. But in all six Test matches we played in the (Castle Rugby) Championship we kicked less than our opponents.
“When we scored what I thought were five reasonably good tries against Australia (in the thumping 31-8 victory at Loftus) and missed three, everybody said it was a bad Australian side … then they go out and draw against New Zealand and New Zealand don’t score a try.
“Suddenly I don’t hear that the All Blacks are conservative and they don’t play great rugby.
“But I don’t want to compare myself with other teams. Obviously you have to grow as a coach and a team and obviously you want to play better rugby and score more tries.
“Sometimes I feel that we’ve been together for nine Test matches … I know it may sound a lot but you get in three days of (preparation) before the Test and have two sessions. So we want to grow.
“I’m very positive, as I’ve been in this position a number of times. I know where we’re going and we’ve blooded a number of youngsters which I’m very happy with … that they’ll be at the (next) World Cup.”
He said that some these players would still only be around 24 by then, yet have played 35 Tests.
“Then suddenly you’ve got a team, and a lot of depth. But again, I’m never satisfied and have high standards – I want to win every single game.
“And you know, we have been in positions to (do that) … we could probably have won 90 percent of those (surrendered) games if our kicking was better.
“(Never mind) conservative or expansive rugby – you do have to kick your goals and that is one thing we need to rectify.”
Meyer said he was keen to complete the northern hemisphere tour unbeaten.
“It’s been a long time since we did that abroad, and it won’t be easy. I’m also keen to examine some of the overseas-based players we’ve pulled in, especially forwards, who are still young enough to potentially play the (2015) World Cup.
“I need to see which players are tough enough to win tournaments away from home and in very different conditions.”
By Rob Houwing