After something of a false start to his Sharks comeback earlier this year, flyhalf Steve Meyer is very much committed to making a huge impact on this year’s Currie Cup campaign for the Sharks. Sharksworld caught up with him for a quick chat.
With plenty of rumours doing the rounds regarding Meyer’s unexpected and sudden “retirement” from the game, on the eve of this year’s Super 14, we’ve been pretty keen to chat to the lad and get his side of the story. It’s fair to say that even though we might not have started any of the rumours ourselves, we’ve certainly played our part in spreading them and it was in the interests of putting these to bed and setting the record straight that we were most keen to chat to Steve. Obviously, our discussion was largely dominated by these issues.
“I’m aware of all the rumours, but the reality of the situation is that I had some very personal reasons for needing to take some time away from the game,” says Meyer. “I’m really not prepared to go into what those reasons were – it was something that came up in my personal life that I had to deal with and I’ve done so now.” Needing to do diligence to at least one of the more plausible explanations, I was about to ask Steve about the drugs angle. He beat me to it, though, by saying that “it definitely has nothing to do with drugs.” Now I guess you can argue that he was going to say that anyway, but I for one believe he is sincere about that, so you’ll need to take my word for it!
“I realise that I let a lot of people down and I’m sorry about that,” Meyer continues. “You need to understand that I’m a huge Sharks fan too and have been all my life. Having to watch the Super 14 from the sidelines was very difficult indeed because I so longed to be out there on the field, giving my all for the team that I love. I know that the timing of what happened was bad and that it hurt the team, but i’s in the past now and I just want to prove how committed I am to the Sharks by giving it a proper go on the field. Just desperate to get out and do that.” Meyer reveals that he has received a number of lucrative offers to return to France in the meantime, but has turned those down in order to make things right with the Sharks.
Another angle that has surfaced is that the senior players in the Sharks squad may have been blocking his return to the team. Steve refutes this, saying that “the senior guys like Jacques Botes and Stefan Terblanche have been nothing but understanding and welcoming. They’ve been around for a while and they understand how sometimes these things can come up that completely take your focus away from the game and that you just need to get through them. My return hasn’t caused any friction in the team that I’m aware of – I love this team and if I thought that my being there was in any way harmful to the spirit, I would walk away. There’s nothing like that, though. We’re all just training hard and looking forward to the game on Friday night.”
We spoke a little about Steve’s time in France and about the circumstances surrounding his first exit from the Sharks, back in early 2006. Steve was part of the infamous “alternate squad” that lost to Griquas in the Currie Cup in 2005; most of those players were released by the Sharks shortly afterwards. “It was a coach’s call at hte end of the day,” Steve says, “and although I didn’t agree with it, I could understand his thinking. I was sitting around not getting picked, so going to France seemed a good thing to do. It really was a great experience which helped me as a player – playing in the Heineken Cup (even getting man of the match once or twice) – and just getting that game-time under my belt was invaluable. The Sharks always said to me that I should go and make the best of the opportunity and that if I developed well, they would possibly look at getting me back one day; that’s exactly what happened and I’m ready to seriously make my mark here now.
“It’s a bit backwards, if you think about it. ” Meyer continues. “Usually players make their name in South Africa and then go to France at the end of their career. For me, it happened the other way round!” Steve also confirmed that he’s not currently carrying any injuries or other concerns and that “I just need match fitness now, because I haven’t played at all in a few months”.
I’d like to thank Steve for taking this opportunity to talk to us and set the record straight. We all have personal matters that sometimes make it difficult to do our jobs and I don’t think it’s reasonable for us, as fans, to expect that anyone should blurt the details of theirs all over the media. Steve realises that the fans are sceptical, but is committed to proving himself to the faithful, because, he says, “they are the reason we play the game, after all. Without fans, we’d have no reason to exist”. From my side, I’m quite happy to let this matter rest now and throw our weight behind Steve and the rest of the Sharks squad as they go out to bring the Currie Cup back to Durban. I hope you’ll all feel the same way.Tweet