Nollis Marais © Gallo Images
The Bulls are done with their rotation policy and only the best team will take the field this week.
This is the stern message from coach Nollis Marais as the team looks to turn their bleak season around with their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld against the Jaguares on Saturday.
The Argentinian side are a handful and are the type of team that makes every opposition look bad on the field, and the Bulls know they will need to produce a superb effort if they are to reverse the trends of the opening half of the season.
That’s why the rotation policy – which was used among the loose forwards, the loosehead props and scrumhalves in particular – will no longer apply, as it certainly hasn’t been getting the desired results.
“The players know where they stand. I told them the rotation policy is out the window,” Marais said.
“The rotation policy works when everyone is on form and everyone brings their part. They know there is no more rotation, and we need to play the best team week in and out. We need to put the best team on the field, as far as we can. We do have a policy agreement with SA Rugby that we have to rest our Springboks. So someone like Jan Serfontein will play this weekend but he won’t play against the Cheetahs. Trevor is in the same boat. We are finished with rotation, I told the players and they have received the message.
“We created opportunities in all the games but it never came off for us. You can talk about rotation but if you are in the position we are in, then you need to play the best players. We have won one out of six, we need to do a lot better.”
Trevor Nyakane and Jacobie Adriaanse, Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman and the duo of Rudy Paige and Piet van Zyl will all be affected by the arrangement, with Marais looking to build some continuity with the same side.
The Bulls coach did admit he was feeling the pressure, especially in light of Sanzar’s announcement to cut two teams.
“It is always difficult after the Super Rugby format announcement, there is a lot of pressure on us, especially after the Sunwolves game. We never expected to play that way but we take full responsibility. We just need to focus on the Jaguares this weekend, the sweet and short about it is that we focus on Saturday.”
Again focus is on the attack, which creates opportunities but has failed to kick in. Six games later this is again the worry for the team.
“It is something we are asked every week and we say we are working on it. There are only so many things we can control. The players must also take responsibility for things we put in place, and they’re not supposed to do it, but they do it. They know, we have had our meetings with them. They need to take responsibility for some of the execution they do on the field.
“As head coach of the Bulls I take responsibility for it as well, and from the best of my abilities we will try and sort it out before the weekend.
“We have to live with a different basis, we battle to get our mauls up to standard. It is something we worked on hard against the Sunwolves. We made opportunities, but we make small mistakes that put us under pressure, and that is obviously something we have to fix.”
Marais admitted it was tough to face the Jaguares in his team’s return to Loftus.
“It doesn’t matter which team we are playing at the moment. They are a good side, they put a lot of sides under pressure. What costs them a lot in the end is their discipline. They are one of the most difficult teams to play, they make it difficult for you in every aspect of the game, and will play from anywhere. It isn’t an easy one to come home to.”
The Bulls will name their side on Thursday, but a number of players are under pressure to perform as well.