Nollis Marais ‘learnt a lot’ in his troubled seasons at the Bulls
As he prepared for his last Super Rugby match as head coach of the Bulls against the Stormers at Loftus on Saturday‚ Nollis Marais said he had learned valuable lessons over the past two troubled seasons at the helm.
Under Marais‚ the Bulls have failed to progress to the playoffs of Super Rugby and he will be replaced by experienced New Zealander John Mitchell‚ who arrives in Pretoria next week.
As part of the coaching change that was confirmed in May‚ Marais‚ who has overseen 10 losses and only four wins in the tournament with one match to go for the Pretoria side‚ has been demoted to the Currie Cup team.
“The positives about this season are that personally I learned a lot. I learned more from off-the-field stuff‚ which was something new as I did not deal with it much at the lower levels.
"And I am sure most of you will know about the famous saying that‚ ‘Every level has got its own devil’‚” Marais said on Thursday at Loftus when he announced the squad to face the Stormers in the Bulls’ last match of the campaign.
Marais said even though he and the players cannot undo the damage that has been caused this season where they were reduced to Super Rugby’s whipping boys‚ he was proud that a lot of the youngsters were given opportunities at that level.
“If you look at the squad there are a number of youngsters coming through the system‚ which bodes for the future of this union‚” he said.
“Take a guy like RG Snyman‚ for example‚ who at the beginning of the season struggled a bit but he is playing excellent rugby at the moment.
"You can also take a guy like Jan Serfontein who is now playing brilliant rugby and someone like Burger Odendaal‚ who has improved tremendously.
“There are a lot of youngsters who are coming through and those are the positives. I said it at the beginning of the season that it was going to be a tough year because at one stage 17 out of the 23 players never played against New Zealand sides.
“They are still very young and next season is going to be tough but they are getting better and better‚ which shows that we have the talent. So we just need to develop that talent properly to make sure that they can compete at a top level.”
Captain Adriaan Strauss shared Marais’s sentiments that the future looks bright at the Bulls and said that their fans need to be patient.
“It is difficult to predict what is going to happen in the future but there are a lot of talented youngsters in this squad and there is definitely a bright future for the Bulls‚” Strauss said.
“We need to work hard to get everything in place because we have great players‚ a good system‚ facilities are excellent here and this is a great union to play for.”
Bulls Team: 15. Warrick Gelant‚ 14. Travis Ismaiel‚ 13. Jesse Kriel‚ 12. Jan Serfontein‚ 11. Duncan Mathews‚ 10. Tian Schoeman‚ 9. Rudy Paige‚ 8. Nick de Jager‚ 7. Jannes Kirsten‚ 6. Shaun Adendorff‚ 5. RG Snyman‚ 4. Jason Jenkins‚ 3. Conraad van Vuurren‚ 2. Adriaan Strauss (capt)‚ 1. Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16. Jaco Visagie‚ 17. Trevor Nyakane‚ 18. John-Roy Jenkinson‚ 19. Ruben van Heerden‚ 20. Ruan Steenkamp‚ 21. Piet Van Zyl‚ 22. Tony Jantjies‚ 23. Burger Odendaal