Look­ing for a 10 out of 10

New Bulls coach Mitchell will have to even­tu­ally shore up the fly­half spot

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

THE BULLS are likely to go to mar­ket in search of a fly­half af­ter their player stocks have been de­pleted by the de­par­ture of Tian Schoe­man, Fran­cois Brum­mer and want-away Joshua Stander.

Schoe­man will be leav­ing for France shortly, while Brum­mer is head­ing to Ja­pan and Stander will be head­ing to Cape Town to join WP at the end of the do­mes­tic sea­son, leav­ing the Bulls thin at No 10 with only Han­dre Pol­lard, Tony Jantjies, pic­tured, and Ti­nus de Beer.

With Pol­lard likely to join the Spring­boks ahead of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship, the Bulls will only have Jantjies, De Beer and Stander for the Cur­rie Cup sea­son – start­ing this week­end – which could leave them in a bit cri­sis.

The Bulls will still be kick­ing them­selves af­ter fail­ing to se­cure the sig­na­ture of Ju­nior Spring­bok and Storm­ers fly­half Damian Willemse last year, af­ter suc­cess­fully raid­ing the Western Cape of their prom­i­nent school­boy piv­ots in years gone by, with for­mer Spring­bok Der­ick Hougaard and Pol­lard both hav­ing been stolen from the clutches of WP.

New Bulls boss John Mitchell says the three time Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons will have little-to-no choice but to go look­ing for an ad­di­tional fly­half to bol­ster their wan­ing stocks at pivot.

Mitchell, though, doesn’t see there be­ing much change with the cur­rent squad at Lof­tus Vers­feld and says he will be work­ing with the core of the cur­rent play­ers, while try­ing to lure a player or two in other po­si­tions.

“I al­ways en­joy se­lec­tion and clearly I’m in­her­it­ing an ex­ist­ing player list. Over time, I will be able to form opin­ions and ob­vi­ously look at per­suad­ing some tal­ent to come here as well. The core of the group is here and I think it is pretty ob­vi­ous we will need another fly­half in the mix at some point, so we will be search­ing in that area,” said Mitchell.

It was dur­ing Mitchell’s time at the Lions that Spring­bok fly­half El­ton Jantjies came to the fore and with the help of for­mer All Blacks fly­half Carlos Spencer, the New Zealan­ders were able to con­vert Jantjies into a world class fly­half.

Mitchell will be hop­ing to do the same to the El­ton’s younger brother, Tony, who made his first Su­per Rugby ap­pear­ance for the Bulls this year and has been on the fringes of the start­ing team since the in­jury to Pol­lard mid­way through the Su­per Rugby sea­son.

While De Beer didn’t fea­ture in Su­per Rugby this year, he too is the kind of run­ning fly­half that Mitchell will be keen on see­ing more of and af­ter his hero­ics for Tuks in their vic­to­ri­ous Var­sity Cup cam­paign, De Beer will be rel­ish­ing his chances of mak­ing the step up to Su­per Rugby next year.

Mitchell has al­ready iden­ti­fied some weak­nesses within the Bulls sys­tem and wants the team to speed up the in­ten­sity with which they play the game, es­pe­cially the for­wards, with a lot of fo­cus be­ing on giv­ing pref­er­ence to faster loose for­wards in the same way he did at the Lions with the likes of War­ren White­ley and Jaco Kriel.

“I re­ally haven’t had enough time to iden­tify the weak­nesses. My main fo­cus is get­ting our game speed up, get­ting move­ment into our tight for­wards and maybe se­lec­tion pro­files may change a bit go­ing for­ward.

I think the back five of the scrum need to in­crease their mo­bil­ity and that is some­thing I’ve looked at al­ready,” Mitchell said.

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