Cape Town - Bulls head coach Pote Human is lamenting the departure of several high profile players from the franchise.
The Pretoria-based outfit will see a number of individuals leave for pastures new in Europe and Japan, including Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman and Duane Vermeulen.
It is a blow for a side that enjoyed an improved 2019 after they reached the Super Rugby quarter-finals following a fifth place finish in the regular season.
They eventually went down to the Hurricanes in Wellington, but the visitors gave the 2016 champions a scare before eventually succumbing 35-28.
Their positive campaign should have given them something to build on for next season, but Human insists that it may not be possible to compete with the top teams in the competition in 2020.
“Ten of the guys are leaving us after (the quarter-final defeat), so we’re going to struggle next year I think,” he told reporters.
“For me personally, it’s very disappointing because it’s my first year as head coach of the Bulls and I really thought if we could keep this team for another two years it would be great, but unfortunately that’s not the case.”
The financial lure of Europe and Japan is a problem throughout the southern hemisphere but it is a particular issue for South African sides, according to Human.
“Definitely it is a concern in South Africa,” he said. “The weak rand means we can’t keep hold of the money. It’s just impossible for us to try to keep the guys. It’s unfortunate.
“We will have to look at it. It’s really difficult. They stopped the Bok contracts, so it’s all through the franchises now to try and keep the guys, but the money is just too big in Japan and Europe.”
One positive for Human was the performance of wing Cornal Hendricks, who has impressed this season after a three-year absence because of a heart condition, and the Bulls head coach believes that he is good enough to return to the international fold.
He added: “He is hitting form now. Maybe Rassie (Erasmus) can use him. He showed he can compete at this level.”