Leicester Tigers head coach Heyneke Meyer has described next summer’s Lions tour to South Africa as a ‘huge’ event.
The former Blue Bulls and Eagles coach knows South African rugby better than most and he is expecting a titanic battle when the Lions arrive in his home country in May 2009.
“The Lions tours are huge, coming once every 12 years, and South Africa will be targeting those Tests massively,” said Meyer, who moved to Welford Road last summer having missed out on the Springbok job at the beginning of the year.
“I have coached 70 percent of the current Springbok team and there are some big personalities there. But the Lions can trouble them.”
By the time the Lions tour comes around, Meyer will have gained extensive knowledge of northern hemisphere rugby and, even after less than six months in the East Midlands, he believes there is enough talent in Britain and Ireland to get the Lions back to winning ways.
“Each nation up here has game-breakers,” Meyer told the Observer on behalf of European Cup sponsors Heineken.
“Bring them together, pick the right side and play the right tactics, and the Lions are perfectly capable of beating the Springboks.
“They must play smart, though. Too often, British teams play the wrong tactics against South Africa. The Springboks may have big forwards, but they can get around the park and you’re not going to beat them by playing open, running rugby. Their defence is too good and they will feed off your mistakes.
“It will be very difficult for the Lions because this is one of the best Springbok teams who have ever been put together. They will be fresh and highly motivated going into the Tests, while no one can know what state of mind the Lions will be in at the end of the season.”