Mitchell doesn't want to make promises ahead of Super Rugby season

23 January 2018 - 17:58
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Bulls' head coach John Mitchell.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images Bulls' head coach John Mitchell.

In a move that will not to go down very well with some sections of the Loftus faithful‚ head coach John Mitchell says he is not making any promises but insists they will be ready for what is expected to be a grueling Super Rugby campaign.

The Bulls endured one of the worst seasons last year when they failed to qualify for the knockout stages as a result of an inconsistent run of results that included humbling and embarrassing defeats to the Sunwolves in Tokyo and against the Crusaders at Loftus.

“I don’t want to make any promises on how the team will perform this year‚ we will be solely focused on the process‚" he said.

"It’s about marginal gains for us‚ stacking good stuff on good stuff daily as we continue to ensure excellence.

"It’s not about the end but rather the daily effort combined at the end.

"Our purpose is to fill Loftus and put smiles on people’s faces.

"We will be working very hard to achieve that.

“We have made tremendous progress with our processes over the last couple of months and we will be ready for whatever comes our way during Super Rugby 2018‚” said Mitchell‚ who joined the Bulls midway through last season’s to replace Nollis Marais.

Mitchell also named midfielder Burger Odendaal and loose forward Nic de Jager as co-captains to lead the squad that is made up of 21 forwards and 17 backs and includes eleven Springboks‚ a number of Junior Boks and Springbok Sevens player Tim Agaba.

Only outside back Divan Rossouw‚ midfielder JT Jackson‚ flyhalf Manie Libbok‚ scrumhalf Embrose Papier and lock Aston Fortuin do not have Super Rugby experience.

He added that since he arrived at Loftus last year‚ a lot of progress has been made and he has laid a solid foundation but asked the fans to be patient and realistic.

“I am confident that we have worked smartly and laid a solid foundation‚" he said.

"This squad will develop and improve and one needs to be realistic about it but we are all in agreement about the way forward.

"We will be connected.

"We want to be respected and not just liked.

"Therefore one of our main focus areas during this process will be to remain honest and never forget to enjoy it and have fun.

"We want to serve our fans‚ supporters‚ shareholders‚ sponsors and we want to earn back their respect and get the Bulls to bind us together as one.”

Some of the key players will be the likes of Handre Pollard‚ Lood de Jager‚ Jamba Ulengo‚ Adriaan Strauss‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Warrick Gelant‚ Ruan Steenkamp and Hanro Liebenberg‚ who are part of the leadership group.

Bulls Super Rugby squad: Outside Backs: Warrick Gelant‚ Duncan Matthews‚ Travis Ismaiel‚ Jamba Ulengo‚ Jade Stighling‚ Divan Rossouw.

Midfielders: Burger Odendaal‚ JT Jackson‚ Francois Brummer‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Johnny Kotze.

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard‚ Marnitz Boshoff‚ Manie Libbok.

Halfbacks: Ivan van Zyl‚ Andre Warner‚ Embrose Papier.

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit‚ Ruan Steenkamp‚ Hendre Stassen‚ Hanro Liebenberg‚ Jannes Kirsten‚ Nic de Jager‚ Tim Agaba.

Locks: Jason Jenkins‚ Ruben van Heerden‚ RG Snyman‚ Lood de Jager‚ Aston Fortuin.

Props: Pierre Schoeman‚ Conraad van Vuuren‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Matthys Basson‚ Lizo Gqoboka‚ Trevor Nyakane.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie‚ Adriaan Strauss‚ Edgar Marutlulle