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Heyneke Meyer confirmed as new Springboks coach

Updated: January 27, 2012, 06:30

CAPE TOWN , South Africa(AP) Heyneke Meyer was confirmed as the new coach of the Springboks on a four-year contract by the South African Rugby Union on Friday.

The 44-year-old Meyer takes over from Peter de Villiers, who coached the Springboks to the quarterfinals of last year's World Cup.

"It's a truly humbling experience to be named as the Springbok coach,'' Meyer said at a press conference.

"I realize it's a big responsibility because you carry the hopes and dreams of South Africa on your shoulders, but I'm ready and I'm looking forward to the challenge.''

Meyer led the Blue Bulls to four Currie Cup titles in the last decade, and in 2007 to the first Super Rugby crown by an African team in the professional era, making him the standout candidate for the job.

Gert Smal was thought to be the other major contender, but was reportedly intent on honoring his contract to 2013 as the forwards coach with Ireland.

The identity of the front-runners was a closely guarded secret until Wednesday, when the Bulls confirmed SARU approached Meyer the day before. The Blue Bulls didn't want to release Meyer, but also didn't want to stand in his way of the Boks job.

"The Blue Bulls wished to retain his services but his contract contains an exit clause which has been exercised,'' SARU CEO Jurie Roux said. "Very few people can resist the call when your country says it needs you.''

Meyer served as Springboks assistant coach to both Nick Mallett and Harry Viljoen, and was making his third bid for the national job.

"The first time I felt I still had things to achieve at the Bulls and the second time it was decided to appoint someone else,'' said Meyer, who lost out to De Villiers four years ago when a nonwhite coach was preferred.

Roux confirmed that transformation was lower on the agenda this time.

"The issue of transformation was taken into account. I've spoken to Heyneke and he understands the dynamics of our society,'' Roux said.

"The mandate was quite simple: Appoint the best coach for the team, because if you have a winning team then it's a lot easier to promote the game and transform participation and interest in the sport.''

Meyer was yet to name his staff, declined to identify his captain, and was noncommittal on the style of play he would pursue.

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