Pretoria - Newly appointed Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has assured supporters they can expect a new approach from the Pretoria side in this year’s Currie Cup competition, starting on August 8.
Marais has been installed in the head coach position for this year’s competition following the departure of Frans Ludeke.
While the Bulls had been preaching a shift to a more expansive style during this year’s Super Rugby, there was little evidence to support this.
Marais indicated the Bulls will be looking to gravitate towards the tryline more than has become the norm in Pretoria.
“We want to have an approach that complements the players, and that is something we will look at seriously,” Marais said on Tuesday.
“There will definitely be change, there might be a few headaches in the beginning but the players are buying into it.
“It is something new for them and obviously we didn’t throw everything out, we will just make a few adjustments that we believe will complement the players.”
Marais said a high premium would be placed on skills training to get the players to a level that would enable them to play a more expansive style of rugby.
“Improving the skill-sets is a huge focus for us at the moment. We had discussions with all the players and we know what is lacking are the skills,” Marais said.
“The last few days we’ve been working hard on that and it is something we are very serious about.”
Marais announced a bloated squad for this season which included a number of stalwarts such as Victor Matfield, Handre Pollard, Trevor Nyakane and Rudy Paige who would likely be involved with the Springboks.
There was some good news for supporters with the Bulls confirming they had secured the sought after signature of fullback Jesse Kriel until October 2018.
It also emerged that Francois Hougaard, who was not included in the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship, would not exercise his option to play for a Japanese club during the Currie Cup competition.
Hougaard's decision was likely fuelled by the Springbok snub and the hope of swaying the selectors with good performances during the domestic competition.
With Paige’s call-up to the national side and Piet van Zyl’s long-term injury layoff, Hougaard could finally receive some game time at scrumhalf after he was used to great effect on the wing during the Super Rugby competition.
Newly appointed Blue Bulls backline coach David Manual said he had been impressed by what he had seen from the players in their first field session on Monday.
“We did an attacking preview yesterday and there is so much skill and ability in this team,” Manuel said.
“We have to match the way we play with the personnel that we have and the personnel we have has a huge capacity in terms of their skill set.
“On the field yesterday I was amazed by the things the players can do with the ball in hand, and that makes me excited as a coach.”