While the Coronavirus continues to keep rugby players off the field, one franchise is thankful for the break so they can reset and find a new pathway under their newly appointed Director of Rugby Jake White.
White was appointed in the position at the Bulls last weekend and will now start rebuilding a Bulls side that lost five of its six games in this year’s Super Rugby franchise.
“What is nice – and again there is nothing nice about the situation - but it gives us time to regroup and take some stock. In all ways - where we are as the Bulls, as South Africans. But also as a coach it gives me time to look at what we exactly need and get a feel of the players in the system,” White told SuperSport.com.
“Selfishly in the Bulls set-up it is a really good time to catch up to all the teams that are ahead of us. It is like a reboot for Bulls rugby. We would have been playing and had lost five of our six games. The curve was going downward and not upward. For us, selfishly it was a blessing as well.
White does believe it is tougher now to rebuild a top squad given the weaker rand and the lure of international clubs. But he sees the turmoil created by the current situation as an opportunity to lure some players back to South Africa.
“It is tougher. That is one of the frustrations I’ve always had looking back at South Africa when I was coaching overseas. I’ve always thought to myself that every time you expose a really good junior into a competition, the chances of a big club coming to try and poach him is more and more likely.
“You look at a guy like Jacques du Plessis, and Paul Willemse. They got snapped up as youngsters overseas. Duhan van der Merwe and Henry Immelmann are two other examples. There are others that went to Toulon and Toulouse.
“It is a concern because what do you do as a franchise coach to keep those guys here and create a legacy. I will say this, this coronavirus - and I know it is a terrible thing - but I think it may put a new spin and feeling to these youngsters on the other side of the world. I’m sure there is a human side to them that is going to say ‘it is really worth it in the long run for me to be stranded on the other side of the world when my family is in South Africa.’
“And in the short term a lot of these guys may take reduced contracts. When you take reduced contracts of 25-30 percent off, then you have to ask if it is worth being miles away earning almost the equivalent of what you are earning in South Africa.
“I think that may well play a big part in some guys coming back or reconsidering coming back.”
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