End of the road for Nol­lis

Marais looks to fin­ish in style as the Bulls face fa­mil­iar foes in the Storm­ers

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

IN WHAT will be his last game at the helm of the Bulls in Su­per Rugby, Nol­lis Marais cares lit­tle for the sen­ti­ment that will come with the oc­ca­sion and in­stead wants his team to end the sea­son on their own terms.

And that will be a win against a Storm­ers side that struck the first blow in their ill-fated sea­son that ul­ti­mately led to his demise as head coach halfway through his four year deal at Lof­tus Vers­feld.

But Marais is not look­ing back­wards and how dif­fer­ently he could have done things. Now, he only seeks that elu­sive sil­ver lin­ing in what has been a tur­bu­lent ten­ure.

As ev­i­dent as it was that Marais was not the only prob­lem, his em­ploy­ers saw it pru­dent to re­lieve him off his du­ties and bring in John Mitchell.

Marais holds no grudges for how things have panned out for him and will leave the job wiser but as a die-hard Bulls man he will take a win against the old foe to soothe the pain.

“It has been a good week. We sat down on Mon­day and I told the guys that this is not what we planned for this sea­son and we’ve let the fans down. Ob­vi­ously there is change com­ing but we have let the fans down and it’s not nice. But we want to fin­ish off strong, make the peo­ple proud, play good rugby and do our ut­most to win on Satur­day, it is still a derby. As I said to the play­ers, I started against the Storm­ers and I fin­ish against the Storm­ers and we are just look­ing for­ward to the game,” said Marais.

Marais’ fi­nal wish is un­der­stand­able as vic­tory against a Storm­ers team that long se­cured their place in the play­offs would go a long way in af­firm­ing his be­lief that he did have a good team at his dis­posal but they were not yet ready to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge for the ti­tle.

Marais has done his best to stay true to the team that beat the Sharks two weeks ago be­fore go­ing down to the South­ern Kings last week with only two changes in flank Shaun Aden­dorff com­ing in for Ruan Steenkamp while loose­head prop Pierre Schoe­man re­places Lizo Gqoboka who is suf­fer­ing from a bout of headaches.

“The pos­i­tives about the sea­son is that I learnt a lot about on and off the field is­sues, es­pe­cially the off the field is­sues which I didn’t deal with at the lower lev­els. But that fa­mous quote “ev­ery level has its own devil” so there is a lot of things I’ve learnt. There are many young­sters com­ing through like RG Sny­man, who strug­gled in the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, but is play­ing ex­cel­lent rugby at the mo­ment. You take a guy like Jan Ser­fontein, who is play­ing bril­liant rugby, and be­hind him sits a guy like Burger Oden­daal, who has been bril­liant as well this year. I still be­lieve that 2017 was al­ways go­ing to be a tough year be­cause out of the 23 play­ers 17 of them had never played against New Zealand sides. They are still very young and they will get bet­ter and bet­ter. We’ve got the tal­ent and it is about de­vel­op­ing that tal­ent prop­erly and mak­ing sure they can com­pete at that level,” Marais said at his fi­nal team an­nounce­ment press con­fer­ence.

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