Nortje chuffed with Bulls 'character' in coping with recovering Jake's absence

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Ruan Nortje. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile/Gallo Images)
Ruan Nortje. (Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile/Gallo Images)
  • Ruan Nortje and his Bulls teammates have given their assurance that they'll be fine without recovering Jake White for the next month or so.
  • White, who had to undergo emergency abdominal surgery on Sunday, is recuperating in a general ward and has been afforded time off.
  • Nortje praised the character shown by the side to get back to winning ways despite the issue and are comfortable with the assistant coaches taking charge collectively.

Rest up, we'll be more than fine.

That's the message from Ruan Nortje and his Bulls teammates to their director of rugby Jake White, who's currently recovering from emergency surgery on Sunday.

The 59-year-old was rushed to hospital after complaining about severe abdominal pain upon the side's arrival back in South Africa following last weekend's URC victory over the Dragons.

Franchise management subsequently have confirmed that all the extensive follow-up tests done on White have come back negative, putting him out of any "immediate danger".

He is also being moved out of ICU to a general ward.

While White's group of assistants - Nollis Marais, Chris Rossouw, Russell Winter, Werner Kruger and Pine Pienaar - will share coaching duties for the next month, this temporary dynamic is hardly an unfamiliar one for the team.

In fact, Nortje admitted that the players already got a taste of it last week given that White was confined to his hotel bed for the duration of the trip to Wales.

READ | Bulls mentor Jake White undergoes successful emergency surgery

"He was unwell the whole week, so the other coaches really took charge effectively. We all understand the system that coach Jake has implemented. It was quite easy to adapt to," the lanky second-rower and captain said on Tuesday.

"It's never nice not having your head coach around, but in the end his health is the main priority and and we really wish him a speedy recovery."

White's affliction had the potential to shove the Bulls onto a slippery slope in their campaign following two comprehensive derby defeats to the Stormers and Sharks and a hectic playing schedule looming, but Nortje hailed the steel shown in the Dragons win.

"We really showed great character. There was some pressure on us in terms of results because we definitely let ourselves down and then the withdrawal of [flyhalf] Chris Smith and coach Jake's illness put even more on us," said Nortje.

"I was really proud of how cool and calm we remained. That result was really massive for us. It wasn't a perfect performance but we definitely showed some better stuff.

"Our discipline was really improved."

The Bulls take on Exeter in a European Champions Cup fixture at Loftus on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 19:30.

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