Pressure mounts on under-fire Marais
Pretoria - After the worst home loss in their Super Rugby history, Bulls coach Nollis Marais is back in the firing line.
Saturday's 62-24 slaughtering at the hands of the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld has placed the struggling coach under fire once more, with the performance prompting the likes of former Springbok and Blue Bulls legend Naas Botha to suggest that time should be up for Marais.
The result means that the Bulls have now lost six of their nine matches this season and they are 12 points behind the Stormers in Africa Conference 1 - a truth that shows just how far the 2007, 2009 and 2010 champions have fallen.
To make matters worse, fans were seen leaving Loftus as early as half-time in Saturday's match.
It didn't take long before Marais was asked whether or not he felt like his job was on the line.
"I cannot make a decision. I think there's two coaches in life ... one that's fired and one that's going to get fired," he said at his post-match press conference.
"I know there are a lot of unhappy people and I accept it as well. I'm not running away from it. Whatever happens at the end of the day, that's the board's decision. If the board see it that I'm not up for it, I've got to respect that decision. It will not be nice."
Marais added that he accepted full responsibility for the loss, and he would not point fingers at any individual players or members of his coaching staff.
"I believe I set out with a goal when I went to the board and said 'this is our plan and this is how we want to play'. I will stick to that," Marais said.
"I've got a certain belief in rugby and I know it doesn't look that way at the moment.
"I've always had results in any team that I've coached. I think we've got a good coaching staff and for me to say that we don't have the right coaching staff to turn it around is not the right thing to do.
"I am in control of the team and I could have made a decision any time I want. If they want to blame somebody for anything it would be me; I take responsibility for the team."
Marais had no doubt that the Bulls could revisit their former glory days under his leadership.
"I believe that there are certain things that we need to fix. I believe that the Bulls will be a force," he said.
"It doesn't look that way at the moment. I feel the pain. But if you live an ordinary life you will have ordinary stories to tell. That's my belief."
It doesn't get that much easier for the Bulls, who must now turn their attention to the Highlanders, who they host at Loftus this coming weekend.
"It depends how you look at it. Obviously it's not good, but you've got two choices in life," Marais said.
"You can stand up and fight or you can sit in the corner and let everybody kick you. As a team we've got to stand up and fight for the next game.
"Any coach that takes 62 points at Loftus feels let down by certain things but the players dropped themselves as well. There are certain things that are just not acceptable ... they're also going to have to take responsibility."