Brenden Nel - SuperSport.com
Pretoria - The Vodacom Bulls players are “in a world of hurt” and know all too well how much their play is costing their franchise and its supporters at the moment.
That’s the view of coach Nollis Marais, who believes the team is aware of how their poor start to the season is affecting their franchise but also how it is making them the laughing stock of Super Rugby after their loss to the Sunwolves last week.
But Marais cautioned about overplaying the “do it or else” card as it would stifle the creativity of players in the side.
“I do believe they accept it but at the end of the day a player is a player. They want to get onto the field and play and you must put certain structures in place for them to function in those structures and you get the best out of them,” Marais said.
“It doesn’t matter who coaches them at the end of the day, the players want to play and everybody wants to be No 1. I think at the end of the day they understand what the consequences are.
“The team is not in a place where everyone is happy and joking. But we also need to be careful of putting too much pressure on them and putting an axe over their head, making sure that ‘if you don’t play like this this weekend you are out’ – because then nobody will try anything.
“So I think we take responsibility and the team is in a world of hurt at the moment, and it is something they talk about every time.”
Marais defended his decision to drop the rotation policy, saying the time had come for the best team to be on the field from the start.
“I think we have got good enough players that we should be able to rotate and we should play that way. At the end of the day the player we pick in that jersey is the best player for that weekend in the match 23.
“They must also take the responsibility that if you get the chance to play, you must use it. Don’t think next week I am playing again because of the rotation policy. You must be the best and you must play like that.
“Otherwise you put everybody under pressure.”
Marais didn’t want to single out senior players at the moment, but did concede that the entire team, as a group, needed to play better.
“At the moment as a team we are not gelling properly. You can go down the list and look at individuals but I wouldn’t say that. I think everyone is trying but they are making mistakes and it is costing us at the moment. I wouldn’t go to certain individuals or certain players. I think as a team we are making too many mistakes.”
He was scathing about the Sunwolves game, saying it was “a horrible game of rugby.”
“I’ll admit, Saturday must have been the worst Super Rugby game that I had ever watched. It wasn’t the way we wanted to play, it wasn’t what we planned.
“We were put under pressure, the Sunwolves came off the line and we fell back into box kick. That shouldn’t be the case. I think we played well against the Chiefs for 60 minutes and we should have continued on that path.
“The players know exactly what we need. I don’t think we are moving away from our strengths but Saturday was not a very good match and it is good to be back home and to put certain things in place, but that was a horrible game of rugby."
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant
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