Super Rugby

Poor past showing means change at Bulls must come - White

Incoming Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White believes after the team’s poor showing in last year’s Currie Cup and this year’s Super Rugby tournament, change is inevitable.

White said that while the extent of the restructure hadn’t been decided yet, a lot would depend on the exodus via the clause in the current collective agreement about salary cuts, where players have until 14 May to take up a better offer if they get them.

For that reason, he can’t quantify just how big the changes at Loftus Versfeld will be, but there will be change.

“This team came seventh in the Currie Cup and won one out of six games this year. So it didn’t matter who would come in, there would have to be a shake-up and change of players,” he said.

The Bulls have already signed Duane Vermeulen and former Bok Marcel van der Merwe in the last few weeks and there will be more signings in the coming weeks as rugby waits to return to the field.

“We had three vacant spots, so therefore there was always negotiations about who we would bring into the squads. And that has a domino effect on the other guys in the squad. If you get another prop it has a domino effect on what you need. If you have two props there already and you bring in another one you are going to have to offload one.

“People need to be aware because there is a 45-man squad, and because you have to offload, and guys come off contract, there will always be a change in your squad, especially when a new coach comes in.

“I’d like to believe that I can bring one or two players that I rate back into the team as well.”

White said the current clause in the collective agreement gives players until 14 May to take up deals abroad. Johnny Kotze was the first player to exercise this clause, but the amount of players that can move is still uncertain. For that reason, he can’t confirm how big the clean out will be.

“It could be 25 changes, because it is fluid. Agents have come to me and said can I look for something else for that player. The important thing is that I don’t know the players and haven’t worked with them. I’ve never been to a training session. What I don’t want to do is say no, and then I get there and I don’t play the guy.

“I’m in a unique situation where I can be honest with a player and say if you find something let me know.”

White said he was holding thumbs that a number of the top players will stay.

“Another thing that people aren’t aware of, is that at this point in time I don’t have one player. Because if every player decides to go overseas after the 14-day window, he is allowed to. There is no guarantee that I’m going to have what I think I have in two weeks’ time.

“I haven’t had any indication, but I don’t think guys will tell you either. The whole world knows that South Africa has 14 days to get out of their deals.

“Let’s just say I lose four players, surely it has a massive effect on how I restructure again. Let’s say I lose Trevor (Nyakane) and lose Lizo (Gqoboka), then all of a sudden I lose props.

“The number is irrelevant, it is not about the number. It is about at this stage, agents have asked if they could look for something else. I’ve said yes. Obviously I don’t want my top players – the Springboks – to leave. The reality is for the rest of the guys it is a much over muchness.”

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