Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
5 Jul 2018
2:32 pm

John Mitchell: SA sucking its thumb thinking it can win Super Rugby

Heinz Schenk

The Bulls coach has bleak news for local rugby as he justifies going after expensive targets such as Duane Vermeulen to revive his side.

Duane Vermeulen is reportedly on the Bulls' shopping list. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

South African rugby can keep fooling itself that one of its teams will win Super Rugby in near future but the reality is it won’t be happening soon.

Outspoken Bulls coach John Mitchell on Thursday had little hesitation being the bearer of such bleak news though he’s actually trying to justify the franchise’s radical plan to recruit three to four “world-class” players for next season.

The men from Loftus are apparently keen to entice Springboks Duane Vermeulen (No 8), Ox Nche and Frans Malherbe (props) to play their rugby in Pretoria while also targeting the imposing Lions flanker Cyle Brink.

VIDEO: Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell on how to manage team dynamics when world-class players are recruited. Super Rugby

Posted by The Citizen Sport on Thursday, 5 July 2018

“We’re guessing and thumb-sucking to think that our sides can win a tournament of this magnitude, especially with the amount of games that need to be played. To rely on just a few world-class and Super Rugby-quality players is a joke,” said Mitchell ahead of the Bulls’ meeting with the Jaguares at home on Saturday.

“We, as South African teams, simply don’t have squads that are of Super Rugby quality in its entirety. Only when we start creating squads of Super Rugby quality overall will a South African team win the tournament. We’re creating a culture where we are putting young men in match situations they’re simply not ready for. It’s a reality and it talks on the scoreboard.”

Exactly where the cash-strapped Blue Bulls Company – the professional arm of the Bulls – will get the money to fund the intended recruitment drive is still unclear as Mitchell stated he’s “not involved with the numbers”.

With the lure of foreign currency continuing to undermine local teams, some pragmatic voices question whether Mitchell is being unrealistic.

But he’s adamant it can work.

“It’s all about changing your model and focusing on quality instead of quantity,” said Mitchell.

“It’s about having a focus on your flagship team in the club and that when you do invest in juniors, you try to get a return on investment. That forces you to be more accurate with your recruitment and create the type of competitive team that keeps players together for a few years.

“We know the challenges of Europe but there are a lot of young men still here who love our lifestyle, want to be close to family and would love to play for the Springboks.”

For now, however, the Bulls need experienced, big names and sort out the deadwood.

VIDEO: Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell confirms big name changes are in the pipeline.

Posted by The Citizen Sport on Thursday, 5 July 2018

“We’re in advanced negotiations to bring in world-class players. Not stock-standard Currie Cup players,” said Mitchell.

Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Divan Rossouw, Handre Pollard (c), Embrose Papier, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench: Edgar Marutlulle, Simphiwe Matanzima/Matthys Basson, Mornay Smit, Thembelani Bholi, Nic de Jager, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Dries Swanepoel.

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