He succeeds Peter de Villiers as coach of the two-time Rugby World Cup champions, four years after surprisingly losing out to him for one of the most coveted posts in international rugby union.

Although Meyer never played the game at provincial level, he is by far the most successful South African coach of the past decade, turning the Pretoria-based Bulls into a national and international force.

“It is difficult leaving your family (Bulls) behind, but I believe this is my calling and I want to be the coach of a whole nation, not just one province,” Meyer said after his appointment was announced in Cape Town.

“I want to unite our country through the team, but I cannot do this alone. I’m going to need every single South African citizen to help me make this the best team in the world.

“Winning is the most important thing and I accept that — but I have always coached to make a difference to the people of our country.”

His mission during a four-year contract will be to re-establish the green and gold as a global power after a 11-9 loss to Australia last October in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals.

De Villiers was criticised by the public and media for hanging on to players clearly past their best like captain and hooker John Smit, who has since retired from the Test scene and moved to English club Saracens.

Veteran lock Victor Matfield also retired after the World Cup while centre Jaque Fourie and scrum-half Fourie du Preez have moved to Japan and prop Gurthro Steenkamp and lock Bakkies Botha to France.

The policy of most previous Springbok coaches has been to use local players only although this was relaxed for the RWC last year with back Francois Steyn from Paris-based Racing Metro included until he was injured.

Unlike outspoken De Villiers, who courted controversy regularly during his four-year reign with many ill-advised comments ranging from race to eye gouging, Meyer keeps a low profile.

Born in north eastern city Nelspruit in October 1967, he studied sports psychology at the University of Pretoria before making his coaching debut 14 years ago with minnows Eagles in the western Cape town of George.

He joined the Bulls, whose supporters rank among the most passionate and demanding in world rugby, two years later and after a slow start, turned them into a force with a game based on forward dominance and a kicking fly-half.

The highlight came in 2007 when the Bulls conceded an early try and then went on to score 60 points against New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs in the most one-sided final of the southern hemisphere provincial championship.