Heinz Schenk
1 minute read
5 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Youngsters standing tall for the Bulls

Heinz Schenk

Much has been made about the Bulls' transitional phase in Super Rugby and the inevitable questions about how that affects depth.

FILE PICTURE: Frans Ludeke. Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images.

Yet even if numerous squad members haven’t quite harvested the experience needed to cope with the stern challenges of overseas assignments, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

Instead, coach Frans Ludeke, pictured, is hoping to harness their enthusiasm and channel it positively on the trip, which starts this morning against the Hurricanes in Napier.

“We’ve got a few first-timers in this group. You could see they were actually itching to leave our shores and experience something different,” he said.

“I’m really not too worried about them being too excited and perhaps being overwhelmed. In fact, the way some of the younger guys have already become important parts of our team suggests to me that they’ll be mentally fine.”

Perhaps the most prominent of the performing youth brigade has been Paul Willemse, whose robustness combined really well with Victor Matfield in the past few weeks, and the behemoth that is Jacques du Plessis.

The 19-year-old has been colossal, especially in terms of ball-carrying ability, but has been earmarked for an impact role in his first taste of touring.

“They’re really playing well but I also think they’ve been helped by the team environment, which I feel has been conducive for them to express themselves,” said Ludeke.

“That’s the picture I want drawn. You don’t want youngsters performing in isolation, you want their prosperity mirroring the teams’. But Paul and Jacques are definitely taking their opportunities and making a difference.”

Whilst the Bulls haven’t been all that compelling when they travel in the past few years, they do seem to still seem draw on the success of their previous great vintage intermittently.

In other words, there at least isn’t a culture of hopelessness.