Just because John Mitchell has adopted a new stats-based coaching system at the Bulls to keep the players on their toes performance-wise doesn’t mean there will be constant chopping and changing.
The New Zealander made that fact clear by naming an unchanged match squad for Saturday’s eagerly anticipated Super Rugby derby against the Lions at Loftus.
“I think it’s really important to put the responsibility back on the group that played last week,” Mitchell said on Thursday.
“Firstly, they obviously got the job done (by beating the Hurricanes 21-19 last weekend). Secondly, keeping them together builds confidence and then thirdly, it helps us achieve team cohesion. It’s a process and something that doesn’t come easily. You do get that by being consistent with your people.”
It’s indeed pretty hard to fault the Bulls’ efforts in their opener last week.
They showed some delightful moments on attack, especially in the first half before showing mental strength in keeping out their opponents later on.
That versatility has given real hope again to the Loftus faithful.
Yet as Mitchell notes, it’s one game in a tournament that can quickly change course for any side.
“You’ve got to be really careful in this competition,” he said.
“You’ve really got to treat a campaign like this on a week-by-week basis. The competition is really relentless. It will challenge us in different ways on a weekly basis. While saying that, we also need to be mindful to still concentrate on our own processes. We realised we got the result last week but there are other areas of performance that we can improve on.
“It’s about being consistent. The Lions play differently to the Hurricanes. That means a different challenge.”
Captain Burger Odendaal, an injury doubt earlier this week, had Thursday afternoon’s training session to prove his fitness.
Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal (c), Johnny Kotze, Handre Pollard, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Thembelani Bholi, Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Frans van Wyk, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Bench: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, Nic de Jager, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Duncan Matthews.