Johannesburg - If the Vodacom Blue Bulls are serious about arresting their decline in this year’s Absa Currie Cup competition, it is time to be bold and make some much-needed changes, the supersport.com website reports.
And the first one would be to start their nuggety hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
Mbonambi was the one player who tried to up the tempo in the 41-17 loss against DHL Western Province on the weekend, the one player who crossed the tryline, and the one player who showed the heart needed to rectify what has become an embarrassing soft underbelly of the Bulls pack this season.
Coach Frans Ludeke has continued to back Callie Visagie, apparently because he brings stability to the scrums throughout the Vodacom Super Rugby season and now into the Currie Cup, and with little to show for it.
The Bulls have ignored the claims of Mbonambi, who Ludeke himself described as the “most mobile hooker in Super Rugby” and veteran Bok Bandise Maku as the team has backpeddled in the scrums and been penalised by referees in the setpiece.
Things aren’t looking good for the Bulls at the moment. They failed to win an away game in Super Rugby and have lost their opening two games in the Currie Cup.
Their game plan is in question, their selection policy and recruitment policy have been failing and there is a plethora of pressure on Ludeke to rectify matters and ensure that the Bulls, who last won the Currie Cup in 2009, at least make the playoffs this year.
That is non-negotiable for the board, but with two massive losses – conceding 82 points – in their opening two games, the Bulls look set to struggle once again and will need to gain some confidence back against a floundering EP Kings side in their Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Kings are in disarray, with a bout of flu laying half the team low and two losses in their two opening games hardly the result they would have wanted coming back into the Currie Cup Premier Division.
But facing the Bulls at Loftus is another matter, especially as the side hasn’t lost there all season in the major competitions.
The Bulls need to show some backbone and fight, simply put all Ludeke’s talk of a lack of execution to bed and put in a performance that will not only give them self-confidence and belief again but also relieve some of the pressure on the team.
The scrum has been their weak point in this year’s Currie Cup, with a pack that needs to prove their pedigree once again.
To do that some minor changes are needed in technique, and a few hard decisions need to be taken in terms of personnel.
Mbonambi showed against Western Province just what is needed to succeed in the Currie Cup, doing more in a 30 minute stint than many of his teammates in the entire game.
Grit and character should be rewarded, especially now that the team is staring down the barrel.
And hooker is the place to start.