Bulls director of rugby Jake White admits his side lacks ‘X-factor’ and claims there will be changes made after the Pretoria outfit were bundled out of the United Rugby Championship (URC) by the Stormers on Saturday.
White’s men succumbed to a 33-21 defeat in front of a record crowd of 44,109 in Cape Town – the most for a URC match in South Africa.
It was a difficult outing for the Bulls, who were forced into late changes after Canan Moodie withdrew just before the game, which meant Johan Goosen started at full-back, Kurt-Lee Arendse moved to the wing and Chris Smith was at fly-half.
To make matters more challenging, the Pretoria men were chasing the game almost immediately after the Stormers started very well. Aside from a good period in the second-half the Bulls found no way to get back in the game.
White took stock of his team’s campaign and conceded the Bulls need more “X-factor” players. However, the World Cup-winning coach is adamant he will get things right.
“When I reflect on the URC, that’s the one thing I see we are probably lacking, a couple of X-factor guys,” said White. “Maybe next season we will do a bit of recruiting, get those guys to open the game up a bit. That’s our work on, that’s what I said to the players.
“I guarantee that we will get it right, that we will work hard and by this time next year we will be a much better team from the lessons we learned in this campaign.
“There are a lot of things I think we can still improve on. We will get it right. We will have big debrief about what we need. I am lucky to be at an organisation that will buy into that.
“If we need to find X-factor players, then we will find them. If we need to change our pre-season training, we are going to have to find a way to prepare our team to win a URC. We aren’t there yet, but we will get there. We will get it right.”
Credit to the champions
White gave credit to the defending champions, the Stormers, who will host Connacht in next week’s semi-finals in a game the veteran coach expects the Cape Town side to win.
“The Stormers are the benchmark,” said White. “With all due respect to Connacht, it will take a massive effort to fly down and beat them, so it’s likely that they will be in the final for a second year in a row.
“The model is simple, not saying that it’s easy to get. They have a good scrum, efficient lineout, strong defence and when Manie’s kicking well at goal, it becomes so difficult to catch up once they get scoreboard pressure.
“I need to find who we need to have that x-factor, good set-piece and have that style. It’s obviously something that works in this competition.”
The Bulls director of rugby insists it is time for a shuffle in the coaching ranks as they look to shake some energy into the Bulls’ structures.
“There will be a massive amount of changes,” he said. “It’s just time for change. Some of the guys have been with us for a long, long time.
“If I read rugby news, there are lots of changes at the other clubs. We are probably in line for changes, that brings new energy and new ideas. Taking nothing away from the guys who have been here for a long time.
“We probably need something different. That’s part of my promise to the players to get it right. I am already in the process of getting those things in place. I know when I walk in at pre-season, there will be a wow factor.”