- Bulls Currie Cup coach Gert Smal has singled out Edgar Marutlulle as the assistant he's most excited to work with in the upcoming campaign.
- The former hooker has a reputation for a keen technical eye and will be coaching the side's scrums, an area where the Bulls have struggled over the past few months.
- Smal is also more than willing to take Marutlulle under his wing.
Despite suggestions from the outside that the Bulls have lost their mojo at the scrums since the departure of Daan Human to the Springboks, the union has decided to invest in grooming another guru instead of recruiting one.
Edgar Marutlulle, the former Lions, Kings and Bulls hooker, has been identified by director of rugby Jake White as the prime candidate for that responsibility after being confirmed as one of Currie Cup coach Gert Smal's assistants for this year's campaign.
The 34-year-old, an effervescent and articulate man, has quietly built a burgeoning reputation for possessing a keen rugby mind and has been a prominent figure in Loftus' youth structures to date.
It's little wonder then that Smal, whose 24-year coaching career to date has predominantly been as a forwards expert, is excited to act as his mentor.
"What I like about Edgar is that he really has a lot of energy. It's really something that I enjoy," Smal said ahead of Friday evening's opener against the Pumas in Nelspruit.
"I'm more than happy to have him as an assistant. One of the reasons I wanted to put him in was, to be honest, the fact that I've built a huge amount of experience and information over the years that I really want to share with him.
"We're also hoping we can turn him into a forwards coach at some stage. We're at the beginning stage, but I'm very excited about his potential. He brings a lot of energy."
White also labelled Marutlulle as "the most promising player-turned-coach at the union".
But he will nonetheless have his work cut out to help shed the perception that the Bulls have become strugglers at that set-piece.
"We're working very hard behind the scenes to get our systems on track. We obviously want to stop people believing that the Bulls' scrumming in suspect," said Smal, who won the 2007 Rugby World Cup as the Boks' forwards coach.
"That's why we've roped in Edgar, who was a hooker himself and is going to help guide the process."
The first assignment is hardly an easy one in the perennially competitive Pumas, who boast a grizzled front row in Corne Fourie, Ig Prinsloo and Eduan Swart.
"We all know what a tough team they are in the Lowveld. Jimmy's (Stonehouse) men are always highly motivated and we expect quite a hard game," said Smal.
"We'll have to be ready if we want to win."
Kick-off is at 19:00 on Friday.
15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Sebastian de Klerk, 12 Robbie Petzer, 11 Lundi Msenge, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 7 Khwezi Mafu, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Darrien Landsberg, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Ruan Kramer, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Malembe Mpofu, 20 Phumzile Maqondwana, 21 Lucky Dlepu, 22 Eddie Fouche, 23 Alwayno Visagie
15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 David Kriel, 12 Cornal Hendricks (captain), 11 Richard Kriel, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Jaco Labuschagne, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Juan Mostert, 23 Stedman Gans