Looking for a 10 out of 10
New Bulls coach Mitchell will have to eventually shore up the flyhalf spot
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.