Mitchell to test Bulls fitness before naming team
Pretoria - Bulls coach John Mitchell has drawn a line in the sand in terms of the team’s standards, and it may well see some players fall by the wayside.
According to the supersport.com website, Mitchell is known for his no-nonsense approach and has a reputation for discarding players who are either unable or unwilling to meet the standards he set for the team.
This became apparent earlier this year when Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige was left out of the Super Rugby squad and also with prop John-Roy Jenkins, who Mitchell famously quipped “simply hadn’t met our standards”.
And now, after their win over the Stormers and a bye week where players got some much-needed mental rest after eight weeks of rugby, Mitchell has delayed his team announcement internally as some players may have gone a bit wayward in the off-week.
“We weren’t happy with some of the standards set by some of the guys when we went away, so we had some one-on-ones and obviously to get some of the high-speed training up for some of the guys who dropped standards,” Mitchell explained.
“It was a bit disappointing but we made sure we drew a line in the sand because we’re not going to compromise those. And then obviously the guys who have carried the load, on their one-on-ones, and the Boks went out to their camp.
“But it is always nice to freshen people up mentally. We have a good enough process to kick back and work. We will be a bit rusty but by the time we finish on Thursday we will be ready to play rugby again.”
The team’s injury report has a good ring about it. Locks Lood de Jager and RG Snyman are both fit again and will be considered, but the likes of Travis Ismaiel (back spasm), Nic de Jager and Jamba Ulengo are still not ready for action. In some good news, flanker Ruan Steenkamp is back in training as well.
But Mitchell is waiting until after Tuesday’s training sessions to make a final choice on who will face the Sharks this week.
“I haven’t named the team internally today, but I will tomorrow. We just wanted to get through the session. I obviously didn’t want too many guys to eat too much chicken over Easter and too much ice-cream. So we will have a look at their metrics tomorrow and see who delivers and who doesn’t and then make a decision on the right 23.
“I think Travis will definitely be out. We are still looking at the 9s as well and the locking combination, which obviously effects the bench as well.
“We are also mindful of rewarding some guys who are playing exceptionally well against the Stormers. I’m pretty well concluded. It will be important to see tomorrow who delivers high standards and who doesn’t.”
Mitchell added that the team will have to do some management of players as both their byes are done now, halfway through the competition but believes they have planned for every eventuality.
“The thing is, if you still have to go the distance. We’re on an eight-week run now and we will have to manage our players. We have already planned it - we’ve had our whole season planned from the start so we’ve known all along we will have to deal with this fixture list. So we have periodisation for each of the weeks, relative to the games we are playing.
“We work in cycles of three and we work on a different model when we are travelling, those sort of things, it is all covered. But again you have to make those sorts of adjustments as well on personnel and the readings you get on the athletes well-being.”
The Bulls will name their side on Thursday.
Read the story on supersort.com