“I’m looking forward to trying different things and not just be stuck trying to keep the same group of players together.”
The second edition of the United Rugby Championship was one to forget for the Bulls as they fell apart quite drastically, their chances of winning the title fading at the business end of the competition.
The Pretoria franchise finished the season with no silverware in the three competitions they took part in, exiting the United Rugby Championship at the quarter-finals stage, in the Champions Cup they bowed out in the last-16, and in the domestic Currie Cup they fell short in the last four.
There was plenty of introspection as to why the Bulls failed to meet the high standards they had set for themselves and in the off-season director of rugby Jake White reviewed where things went awry. And it seems a lack of player rotation could have been one of the reasons for the Bulls misfiring.
“One of the lessons (I learnt) is to have players that can play and not rely on one group of players,” White told the media ahead of the new URC season, which starts this weekend.
“Not that I didn’t know it, I was scared to do it last year because I didn’t feel like I prepared them well enough to put them on the field,” he said.
Heading into this season, White will take a leaf out of the Springboks’ book in terms of spreading the load among the squad while maintaining quality on the field. To achieve this, depth is needed and the Bulls on paper have it in abundance.
“Credit to the Springboks, I was watching them during this World Cup campaign,” said White.
“If you look at the Boks, what Rassie (Erasmus) has done, it’s a phenomenal thing … during the year they changed their flyhalf, their front row, they weren’t scared to put different combinations on … there’s a success to it.
“I’m looking forward to trying different things and not just be stuck trying to keep the same group of players together. It’s a good time to do it; it’s three years that I’ve been here, and I have more depth now.
“You get a guy like Akker van der Merwe coming in, a guy like Henry Immelman, and Jaco van der Walt, they are older and wiser, a little bit more experienced so that does help,” said White.
“There’s no reason I can’t do that with some of the younger guys who’ve been in our group,” added the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning coach.
The Bulls start their season on Sunday against Welsh outfit Scarlets. And their mandate for the season is clear: win trophies.
“We want to win something, we want to make sure our fans are proud of the fact that we win trophies,” White said.