PRETORIA - “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
These are the words of author Mandy Hales but they could well be the words of Blue Bulls coach John Mitchell to his side this week as they look to resuscitate their ailing Currie Cup campaign after yet another defeat.
As the second round of the domestic competition kicks off on Saturday, with another unpredictable encounter against Griquas at Loftus Versfeld, Mitchell could find himself having to bring about change in his team if they are to stem the tide of defeats that have condemned them to the basement of the competition along with the Golden Lions.
Mitchell has already effected wholesale changes within the Bulls coaching staff and last week took control of the team, but it was seemingly not enough to change their woes as they sank to their worst defeat of the season to the Pumas.
It is understandable that the growth Mitchell seeks won’t happen overnight and it will be a painful process if the former All Blacks mentor is to guide the Bulls back to the glory days but it is becoming increasingly obvious that change must come on the field as well.
Mitchell’s team suffered two new injuries with Abongile Nonkontwana out for four to six weeks due to a broken hand while Boom Prinsloo will certainly miss out against Griquas because of a torn abdominal muscle.
With the Bulls stocks thin at lock and no experienced second rower available, Mitchell could be forced to look at new and young blood in the form of Ashton Fortuin to partner Ruben van Heerden or Jannes Kirsten could find himself moving from the side of the scrum into the second row.
Mitchell has options amongst the loose forwards with Sevens star Tim Agaba having completed his rehabilitation from an ankle injury while Shaun Adendorff has recovered from a knee injury.
Mitchell will be looking for a spark to ignite his side along with the inspiring performances of fullback Warrick Gelant and the return to fitness of wing Duncan Matthews could just be the perfect fit.
There could also be a temptation for Mitchell to turn to the experience of former Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
The painful part of change is what the Bulls are currently experiencing and if they are to become the formidable side they once were, then Mitchell will have to face the painful reality of making changes to his team before it’s too late.