OPINION: Welcome home Heyneke Meyer.
Within hours of the Springboks returning win-less from their three-match tour of Dunedin, Perth and Mendoza, coach Meyer was accused by his predecessor, Peter de Villiers, of playing the controversial race card.
"At this moment we are turning a lot of black people against ourselves by making the team white and nobody will talk about these things but I just have to," de Villiers lectured. "And that is what ... actually we're breaking up our country again.
"Wherever I go I hear people talking negative about the Springboks."
De Villiers is unimpressed by Meyer's decision to select only three non-whites for last weekend's test at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Such accusations are probably the last thing the frustrated Meyer, who resembled the late Sid Vicious with his habit of gripping the coach's microphone and screaming instructions in recent weeks, wanted to hear after two losses and a draw.
There may have also been some temptation to stuff the eccentric de Villiers full of sawdust.
But Meyer will have known what he is getting into; this is just another instalment of the entertainment series that is South African rugby.
We have already witnessed the protracted to-ing and fro-ing of whether the Southern Kings would join Super Rugby, the John Mitchell-Lions debacle and the protracted debate as to whether Morne Steyn should continue at first five-eighth under Meyer.
De Villiers, who during four years with the Boks appeared to either be in cuckoo-land or auditioning for Live At The Apollo with his rambling diatribes, is probably bitter.
But he could also have a point. This is something for the South African Rugby Union to sort out.
Unlike de Villiers, who joined the Springboks in 2008 with a limited background in top-level coaching, Meyer has an extensive coaching background.
The 44-year-old's first head coaching job at Super Rugby level was at the Bulls in 2000 and his first post with the national team as assistant in 2001. He was back as the Bulls head coach in 2002, was spat out for the next two years and returned in 2005.
In 2007, with brutes such as Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield lugging a heavy load up front and halfback Fourie du Preez controlling his game-plan, he guided the Pretoria-based team to their first Super Rugby title in 2007.
Meyer's CV suggested he should take over Jake White's world champions but de Villiers was preferred. Meyer then had a stint with English club Leicester before returning to Africa.
During his short tenure in charge Meyer has predictably retreated to what he and many South African players know best.
The conservative template and decision to stick with Steyn may have gained more support in his homeland if it had produced some wins. It has gained just one and with failure comes criticism.
Meyer's record, however, is no reason for All Blacks' supporters to feel smug.
Dismissing the Boks, who missed seven goal kicks and botched a try to Habana during their 21-11 defeat in Dunedin last weekend, would be narrow-minded.
Meyer will relish the return match against the New Zealanders in Soweto's FNB Stadium on October 7.
So will the 15 men in green and gold. Along with their 94,000 supporters in the stands.
- © Fairfax NZ News