Bulls coach Nollis Marais has decided to do away with his squad rotation policy and will field his strongest side for the match against the Jaguares on Saturday.
Marais’ change of heart is a result of the Bulls suffering their worst start to a Super Rugby campaign in over 15 years, having lost five of their six matches.
The Loftus tactician faces a dilemma as he wants to pick his best squad but also has to adhere to the mutual agreement made with South Africa coach Allister Coetzee of resting Springbok contracted players.
However, according to supersport.com, Marais revealed on Tuesday he would select his strongest personnel for what is always a tricky encounter against the Jaguares, a team well known for getting under opposing teams’ skins.
“The players know where they stand. I told them the rotation policy is out the window,” Marais said.
“The rotation policy works when everyone is on form and everyone brings their part. They know there is no more rotation, and we need to play the best team week in and out. We need to put the best team on the field, as far as we can.
“We do have a policy agreement with SA Rugby that we have to rest our Springboks. So someone like Jan Serfontein will play this weekend but he won’t play against the Cheetahs. Trevor is in the same boat. We are finished with rotation, I told the players and they have received the message.
“We created opportunities in all the games but it never came off for us. You can talk about rotation but if you are in the position we are in, then you need to play the best players. We have won one out of six, we need to do a lot better.”
While lock Lood de Jager and fly-half Handre Pollard were rested for last weekend’s shock 21-20 defeat to the Sunwolves, prop Trevor Nyakane and centre Jan Serfontein are the players now due a rest.
Jacobie Adriaanse, Lizo Gqoboka, Pierre Schoeman, Rudy Paige and Piet Van Zyl are the other Springbok contracted players in the squad likely to be affected by the arrangement.
On top of this, Marais admits that he is feeling the pressure after Sanzaar announced their decision to axe two teams from the tournament.
“It is always difficult after the Super Rugby format announcement, there is a lot of pressure on us, especially after the Sunwolves game. We never expected to play that way but we take full responsibility. We just need to focus on the Jaguares this weekend, the sweet and short about it is that we focus on Saturday,” he said.
The 45-year-old is tired of questions being asked about his attack, saying ultimately it is up to the players to take the try-scoring chances when they come their way.
“It is something we are asked every week and we say we are working on it. There are only so many things we can control. The players must also take responsibility for things we put in place, and they’re not supposed to do it, but they do it. They know, we have had our meetings with them. They need to take responsibility for some of the execution they do on the field,” he said.
“As head coach of the Bulls I take responsibility for it as well, and from the best of my abilities we will try and sort it out before the weekend.
“We have to live with a different basis, we battle to get our mauls up to standard. It is something we worked on hard against the Sunwolves. We made opportunities, but we make small mistakes that put us under pressure, and that is obviously something we have to fix.”
Marais admitted the passionate Argentinians represent a stern test on his side’s return to Loftus.
“It doesn’t matter which team we are playing at the moment. They are a good side, they put a lot of sides under pressure. What costs them a lot in the end is their discipline. They are one of the most difficult teams to play, they make it difficult for you in every aspect of the game, and will play from anywhere. It isn’t an easy one to come home to,” he added.
The Bulls will name their side on Thursday, with the players knowing they have to raise their games if they are to avoid the chop.