Bulls coach John Mitchell issues challenge to his employers ahead of next year’s Super Rugby

16 July 2018 - 09:23 By Liam Del Carme
The Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell addresses the media during a press conference at Loftus Versveld, Pretoria on July 12 2018.
The Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell addresses the media during a press conference at Loftus Versveld, Pretoria on July 12 2018.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Bulls coach John Mitchell left his employers in no doubt about what they need to do before the start of next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Having presided over a campaign that yielded just six wins‚ the Bulls coach pinpointed the area that needed to be addressed most urgently.

“We’ve got very good processes and systems‚" he said.

"We’re gonna have to recruit. It is as simple as that.

“We are going to have to change our model from quantity to quality and create two teams of Super Rugby quality to be able to handle and manage play loads and injuries.

"We have to stop exposing youngsters too quickly in this competition.

"You can’t handle this competition relying on a smearing of Test players and expecting them to last a full season.”

Some may be tempted to remind Mitchell that his team won as many matches as the Stormers‚ whose season has been wholly condemned.

In fact‚ there are strident calls for coach Robbie Fleck to get the boot.

Despite the Bulls’ results‚ Mitchell has remained buoyant‚ only because their poor results are more explicable.

“One thing we haven’t been able to control is the number of game impact injuries‚” explained Mitchell.

“We lost a lot of players through injury. Two props with 10 weeks of suspension – those were critical losses.”

The Bulls’ final act in Super Rugby this season was a plucky performance in which their toil in the first hour ultimately came to nothing in their 38-12 defeat to the Lions at Ellis Park.

“Our performance was pretty good and I don’t think the score line was a true reflection of the game in totality‚” said the coach.

“We were quite patched up as well‚ a lot of youth in the group. We had a lack of depth adapting to Super Rugby level.

“Whenever there were crumbs or turnovers the referee blew us up quickly‚ whereas they were allowed to play it out. That is something I want to take up with the referee.”

When reminded the referee‚ Marius van der Westhuizen had been inconsistent in that area earlier in the season‚ Mitchell pleaded the Fifth.

“I might just reserve my judgment to the protocol and the process. I can’t say he’s in outstanding form.”

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