With all the talk around his job and the Blue Bulls Company said to be bringing a voice from the outside to lead the team, they would be making a fatal mistake in getting rid of one of their own and probably their most successful coach from their junior structures.
Sure, Marais and his team deserve all the criticism that has come their way in recent weeks, given their results this year. But does one swallow make a summer?
It was just over a year ago when Marais was appointed that the Blue Bulls Company board of directors expressed faith in the man to take the team forward, and that his surprise appointment was with an eye on the future.
What’s happened to that future?
It can’t be that Marais is no longer afforded the time and support promised to him when he was appointed just because his team are not producing the results the board envisaged to happen in the next three years.
Marais is only in his second season as head coach of their Super Rugby outfit and besides the dynamics that come with second-year syndrome for any team, he’s had to fly in the dark with a young team against formidable New Zealand teams.
It is true that the Bulls should have put up better performances against the New Zealand sides, and should never have lost to the Sunwolves. But it is unlikely that any other coach would have done better with this side.
Marais has been handicapped by the lack of experience of his management team at Super Rugby level, and the fact he has had to play with the cards he has been dealt with by the Bulls.
Imagine if Marais had the luxury of choosing his management team and retaining a lot of the backroom staff that had been at the Bulls in previous years of Super Rugby?
Furthermore, Marais should have been allowed to make his own selections when buying players from the outside to fit in with his philosophy and thinking on how the Bulls should play.
This Bulls team were always going to struggle against the might and experience of other Super Rugby outfits. But based on the calibre of players they have on paper, it was only going to be a matter of time before the struggles of the past two seasons began to bear fruit.
There is no doubt the Bulls possess some of the most talented youngsters in the country who should become Springboks in the not-too-distant future. Yet it was always going to require some patience and hard work behind the scenes.
With the current crop of players, Marais has won every competition at junior level and they were last year’s Currie Cup finalists.
It is only a matter of time before Marais achieves the same results at Super Rugby level, and that is a lesson the Bulls should appreciate after firing Heyneke Meyer and then reinstating him. Didn’t he lay the foundation for their three Super Rugby titles?
What happened to the time that Marais was meant to be given as head coach? He has a four-year contract, of which he’s only used up one-and-a-half, and already there are calls from within to show him the door!
Everyone at Loftus Versfeld knew that bringing back the glory years was going to be a long-term project, and it is with that in mind that the Bulls must make the right decision and keep Marais.