Cape Town - Kiwi coach John Mitchell says change was needed at the Bulls.
Mitchell was speaking on Monday after taking over as the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup coach, with Nollis Marais granted leave for the remainder of the 2017 season.
Mitchell was recently appointed as the Bulls’ executive or rugby and the franchise’s Super Rugby coach, but Marais was to continue as Currie Cup coach.
However, the Blue Bulls have lost their last three Currie Cup games - which prompted the union to make a change.
“For too long, the union had a mentality of blame, excuses and denial. We have to change it and set new standards,” Mitchell told Netwerk24.
Mitchell said the decision to put Marais on paid leave was unavoidable.
“Restructuring is never nice. I’ve also been through it. The company and board have to look after the interests of the players. You’re working with the hopes of a lot of people. And there are also supporters and shareholders to think about. With my appointment there was bound to be some restructuring at some point and they’ve decided on it sooner rather than later.”
In an interview with SuperSport.com, Mitchell said Marais had a tough year but believes he can make a vital contribution to the Bulls in future.
“Yeah, that’s not my area. That is up to Barend (van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company) and Xander (Janse van Rensburg, high performance manager). But Nollis is very much still employed by us, and he is a bloody good 'oke'. Unfortunately he has been through a tough year. An outcome can be a really dangerous thing. We have to become more consistent, we have to create clarity and confidence. His heart is in the right place, he loves this place, it is massive to him. So it is a chance for him to refresh and come back at some point and make a vital contribution again.”
Van Graan earlier explained via a press statement that this action was “merely the next step in the turnaround strategy”.
“We are working hard to ensure the sustainable and long-term success of the Bulls and Blue Bulls, as we continue striving towards achieving success and restoring trust and faith in our brand,” said Van Graan.
"I believe this step furthermore grants us the opportunity to cross pollinate within our structures, ensuring what coaches have learnt whilst being involved at senior rugby levels is transferred throughout the entire system and structure, thus benefiting at all levels. We urge our supporters and fans to rally behind the team by coming out and showing their support."
The Blue Bulls Company confirmed the following management teams for the remainder of the 2017 season:
- Head coach, Attack, Exits: John Mitchell
- Skills and Kicking: Hayden Groepes
- Lineouts: Pote Human
- Scrums: Gary Botha
- Defence (All teams, junior and senior): Pine Pienaar
- Strength and Conditioning: Jacus Coetzee (Head Weekly Tactical Periodisation (WTP) and Rehab), Ghafoer Luckan (Senior Strength and Conditioning assistant)
- Head coach: David Manuel
- Backline coach: Bevin Fortuin
- Forward coach: Anton Leonard
- Strength and Conditioning: Shaun du Toit
- Head coach and Backline: Dewey Swartbooi
- Forward coach: Denzil Frans
- Strength and Conditioning: Henri-Charl Terblanche, Yusuf Vahed (Junior Strength and Conditioning assistant)
- Junior teams kicking, all teams’ PR and Administration: Divan Strydom