Meyer not ready to hit ‘panic button’

His team has come under fire and certain sections of the media are ready to write them off as title contenders, but Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer is nowhere near ready to hit the panic button.

Speaking from New Zealand, after his team’s 32-10 hammering at the hands of the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch at the weekend, Meyer said his team is still on track to achieve their goals on this five-match Australasian tour.

Meyer, who admitted to being “bitterly disappointed” with the quality of the rugby his team produced at the weekend, said he will sit down calmly and plan for the two remaining matches on the tour.

After a winning start to the tour, with victories over the Brumbies and Waratahs, the Bulls came down to earth with the loss against the Crusaders.

Now they have to pick themselves up again for matches against the Highlanders in Dunedin this week and the Hurricanes in Wellington a week later.

“I’m not a person who makes panic decisions after one defeat, especially not if you’ve had a good tour so far,” Meyer told this website.

“Yes, you will lose games away from home, but I’m more disappointed with the way in which we lost.

“We will put it right for the two remaining games and if we can win one of our two remaining games it will be the best tour ever by a South African team and the Bulls,” he said of the possibility of achieving three wins on an Australasian tour for the first time.

He admitted that the quality of the rugby that was produced against the Crusaders were not of an acceptable standard.

“We do set very high standards in this team and for sure we are not happy with how we played, it is unacceptable.

“Regardless of who the opposition was, you have to learn from this.

“It is tough enough to win in New Zealand and it won’t get any easier. The next two games will be just as tough.

“We have set our goals for the tour and we are still on track to achieve those goals. We have to regroup this week. It is tough when you’re away from home for five weeks. After two wins it is easy, but now the character [of the team] has to come through after a defeat.”

Meyer said you have to see the loss to the Crusaders in perspective.

“The Crusaders also lost two out of three away [in South Africa],” Meyer said of the champions’ defeats against the Lions and Sharks recently.

“It is very difficult to win away games. If you are not 100 percent on top of your game and you don’t stick to the game plan 100 percent you will struggle.

“We always knew that if we don’t play a structured game and if you give away turnovers and don’t find touch you will be punished against these guys [the Crusaders], especially on their home ground.

“They have won 23 straight matches at home and haven’t lost there for three years [the Crusaders’ last home defeat having been to the Blues in February 2004].

“We certainly didn’t play according to our strengths … we didn’t kick out, we didn’t take the game to them and while we tried to play some rugby, there were too many turnovers on the outside.

“It’s difficult enough to win away from home and as our two previous games showed, if you want to win away you have to be clinically very solid – your defence has to be 100 percent and you have to play to your strengths.

“We did none of those.”

Meyer pointed out that in the last 30 minutes against the Crusaders his team finally started playing some, but by then the game had already been lost.

The Bulls coach also said he is lucky that his team suffered no major injuries at the weekend and the only injury concerns are those suffered earlier – which means star players like Wynand Olivier and Pierre Spies – not to mention suspended centre JP Nel – will still be out.

He may consider starting with veteran utility back Frikkie Welsh against the Highlanders this week, but felt that you

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