Columnists 21.8.2017 10:13 am

Nollis Marais’ demotion only treats one of the Bulls’ symptoms

Nollis Marais' unceremonious treatment won't make the Bulls world beaters again. Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images.

Nollis Marais' unceremonious treatment won't make the Bulls world beaters again. Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images.

John Mitchell now has extra time to start imposing his ideas before 2018’s Super Rugby but don’t expect immediate results.

There’s no doubt now that the John Mitchell revolution is now in full swing at Loftus.

On Sunday night, the Bulls formally announced that Currie Cup coach Nollis Marais is now on paid leave for the rest of 2017.

Also read: Currie Cup: Cheetahs win a thrilling farce at Loftus

The man who tried to put the men from Pretoria on a different path for last two-and-a-half years has now been emphatically sidelined.

Unlike his assistants David Manuel and Anton Leonard – who’ve been demoted to the Under-21s – Marais is nowhere.

It’s a damning indictment on the faith the upper hierarchy have in him.

When Mitchell was unveiled as director of rugby in late May, the plan was for Marais to merely relinquish his Super Rugby post.

Still entrusting him for the Currie Cup made sense.

After all, you still want Marais to develop as a top level mentor.

Yet, in hindsight, he was always on borrowed time.

Once the all-too-familiar losing groove started becoming entrenched again, Marais had to be in trouble.

You have to wonder though if the Bulls could’ve saved them all the trouble if they simply installed Mitchell as Currie Cup coach from the start.

The now lowly domestic tournament is the perfect platform to gain some confidence before next year’s Super Rugby campaign as well getting used to Mitchell’s ideas.

However, with the competition half completed anyway, precious time has been frittered away.

But the problems don’t stop with Marais.

You also have to ask whether the Bulls currently have the players to realise Mitchell’s vision.

After all, they’ve been bedevilled by eccentric (that’s putting it mildly) recruitment for years now and coaching depth remains thin.

Are established players like Boom Prinsloo, Nic de Jager, Piet van Zyl and Tony Jantjies good enough?

Isn’t it time for a long-term project, where youngsters like JT Jackson, Manie Libbok, Warrick Gelant, Andre Warner, Ruan Steenkamp, Ruben van Heerden and Abongile Nonkontwana are backed to the hilt?

Either way, don’t expect an immediate upturn in fortunes following Marais’ sacking.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

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