South Africa v England, Durban, June 9
Meyer credits Tigers with rugby revival
June 6, 2012
Heyneke Meyer spent a short spell as Leicester coach © Getty Images
South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer has paid tribute to Leicester Tigers, crediting the Aviva Premiership club with rekindling his love for rugby.
The 44-year-old will take charge of his first Test on Saturday - against England in Durban - and he took time out in the build-up to reflect on his short stay with the Tigers.
After leading the Bulls to a maiden Super Rugby title in 2007 Meyer was overlooked for the job of Springboks coach, prompting a switch to Welford Road that ended after just six months due to personal reasons.
He returned to the game with the Bulls in 2011 and was a unanimous choice to replace Peter de Villiers as South Africa coach following the conclusion of last year's Rugby World Cup.
"Without being a great politician, I had an unbelievable time at Leicester," he said. "The way they treated me and carried me on their hands in difficult times there - I have just got the best things to say about Leicester.
"The public and the board were brilliant from day one. I will always be thankful for Leicester because if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have been back in rugby.
"I thought at one stage it was the end of the road, I had done my dues and it was time to get into something else. But the way they treated me and brought me back into rugby, I will always be thankful for them."
Meyer is keen to link-up with some familiar faces this weekend, particularly those players who have blossomed into England internationals since his departure from Leicester.
"It is great to see a lot of those youngsters I coached, such as Dan Cole and Benny Youngs, coming through. I am proud of what they have achieved," he said. "There is a bigger picture than just South African rugby. As a coach you are there for everyone and you need to improve guys you work with. I am really looking forward to the end of the tour and going to England to meet up with friends.
"That is something we miss in the new era. Although it is professional, I still believe it is just a game and you need to build those relationships. I don't want to prove anything, I just want my guys to play the best they can, to their best of their abilities."
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