Loftus set for major change

    2017-07-11 16:59

    Brenden Nel -

    Pretoria - Change is coming to Loftus Versfeld and that’s a fact.

    To say the Bulls have been poor this season and playing below their standards is an understatement, so much so that coach Nollis Marais had to apologise to his team’s fans after the one-point loss to the Kings last week.

    Marais accepted that the current season’s results have not been “acceptable” but believes that when John Mitchell arrives next week things will change for the better.

    Mitchell will be at Loftus next Monday to assume his role as Executive: Rugby and take over both the strategic and active running of the team. While Marais will coach Currie Cup going ahead, a number of changes are still being expected for the management team, with the Bulls only confirming that the current management team would stay in place until the end of Super Rugby – that is, after this weekend’s final match against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld.

    But Marais, who has complained that he has not had control over both the conditioning and way the Bulls have played this year despite being head coach, believes that things will be better when Mitchell takes charge.

    While it hasn’t been sorted out who will be in charge of contracting – that role currently being filled by High Performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg with mixed results - it is unlikely that Mitchell will not have a major say in that department in future.

    Still, while the Bulls were on the losing side against the Kings and the loss joined the loss against the Sunwolves as the worst results in their season, Marais believes the future still looks brighter than the results tell.

    “We know its not good enough. Its not acceptable,” he said.

    “Its not like we take the loss and move on to the next game. Personally I take it very hard. Its never what you set out to do at the beginning of the season, we had big plans at the beginning of the season for what we wanted to do. It doesn’t matter what I have to say now, it will be turned whichever way people want it to be turned. Obviously we are disappointed for the fans as well, its unacceptable to lose at Loftus and we know they are very disappointed. Obviously there is change coming at Loftus as well, and we need to look to the future as well.”

    At the moment it seems that only defence coach Pine Pienaar and Marais are assured of their roles in the future management team, with reports already linking former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer to the side.

    The reality is that there is unlikely to be big budgetary concessions made by the Board for an overhaul of the management team either, and Mitchell may have to craft out a team with what he has, with little cash available for consultants.

    Marais has said the final decision is up to Mitchell, but the two have been working together via email and telephonic conversations to try and change some aspects of the Bulls game. Still the Bulls coach has resigned himself to whatever fate awaits him.

    “Forget about me, it isn’t about me, it is about the team. I will sit down and make sure they are properly prepared for the weekend. That is the only thing I can do. We will get all the info, we can train properly. If I’m going to be involved in Super Rugby next season, that’s not my decision, that is John’s decision. I will work to the utmost best of my abilities and I will finish like that. If it is not my future to coach at the Bulls again in Super Rugby, then it is not. I will go from there.”

    Either way the game against the Stormers will herald change at Loftus. Just how swift and great that change will be awaits to be seen.

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