Currie Cup

Jake backs lukewarm Marcel's Bulls form: He's going to get there

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Marcel van der Merwe (Gallo Images)
Marcel van der Merwe (Gallo Images)
  • Bulls mentor Jake White has leapt to the defence again of his Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe, who's still struggling to find his mojo.
  • The 30-year-old tighthead, a replacement against the Lions on Wednesday, turned in a better performance without suggesting he's over his troubles yet.
  • White also points out that inconsistent referee interpretations are also contributing to his struggles. 

Amid the continued wave of positivity in the Bulls camp, Jake White has once again had to defend the misfiring Marcel van der Merwe.

One of the Bulls director of rugby's more prominent signings, the seven-cap Springbok tighthead has struggled to adapt to life back at Loftus as his usually vaunted scrumming ability has proven underwhelming to date.

The 30-year-old came on as a second-half replacement during Wednesday's 22-15 Currie Cup win over the Lions and while he looked a bit more composed, his impact was still limited.

He was notably dominated at one scrum by his direct opponent, Sti Sithole.

White has admittedly been in a difficult position when it comes to Van der Merwe.

While he wanted to grant the former Toulon stalwart extended game-time to counter his indifferent form, the need for consistent overall results has made it a balancing act.

"This is not about a scenario about more game-time," said White.

"It's been a long time since Marcel's played back-to-back matches. It's going to take time."

The Bulls mentor also pointed out again that the No 3 is, at least for the moment, possibly still drawing the short straw when it comes to the varied referee interpretations at scrum time.

"The scrum calls on both sides was a talking point and it's been so in other games too," said White.

"There were calls that could've gone the other way. You almost get the feeling - and this is across the board - that one player does a specific thing throughout that doesn't get blown and when another does the same thing, he's penalised.

"It's going to take time to get used to this. I've sent a lot of clips to the referees this season and we invariably get feedback from them that some calls might've been different."

With such things out of White's control, his task is just to keep plugging away and backing Van der Merwe.

"He's going to emerge and prove his value, I'm confident of that. 

"We've invested a lot of time in him these past few weeks. A few weeks back, some said Marcel couldn't scrum. In this game, we won a few late ones with him in the front row. We lost two too, but the same goes for (the Lions' veteran former Bok prop) Jannie du Plessis.

"He's very experienced and one of the best scummers we've had the past decade, but it took time for him to adapt. Marcel's on the same road and he's scrumming with new hookers almost every game to boot."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24