Sharks not going to run it out of their own half, insists Bulls coach Jake White
CAPE TOWN - While the Bulls and Sharks only hunt each other on sports fields, it doesn’t mean the art of luring your prey is any different.
And very little gets Jake White going more than mind games.
The wily Blue Bulls director of rugby has seen most of what the rugby world has to offer, and was in typical banter mode yesterday after announcing his strongest possible team for tomorrow’s Jonsson Kings Park showdown (7pm kick-off).
The only real new face is Marnus Potgieter at right wing, with Travis Ismaiel sidelined for a few weeks following shoulder surgery.
“They don’t play any rugby in their half; they kick the ball, they give the ball to you and they wait for you to make mistakes … I know what’s coming: they are going to be kicking the ball to us, and we’ve just got to be good enough to catch it and then play … I know what’s coming – and I am repeating myself,” White said.
“They are not going to start running from their own half; they haven’t done it the whole year. They basically kick everything out of their half.”
Those were answers to three different questions about the Sharks, and White wasn’t going to let the Durbanites’ conservative game plan escape the spotlight, as his own teams in the past have often been accused of playing the same style.
The 2020 Bulls do play a much more rounded game, with physical forwards doing their jobs and a backline made up of a few wise old heads and a couple of electric runners out wide able to strike.
White then went the whole nine yards on the Sharks’ approach: “As I said, they are not going to run out of their own half. They are not going to start playing rugby when they haven’t done it the whole year and all of a sudden in the rain, against the Bulls at home, with six forwards on the bench …”
Perhaps the Sharks might just run the ball back this time. White smiled when he was asked if that could be the case. “As I said, the only time when they run is when they run on (to the field)!”
The coach’s confidence stems from the Bulls’ recent 49-28 and 41-14 triumphs over the Sharks. But one factor in the hosts’ favour is their winning streak over the Pretoria team in the Currie Cup – six victories since 2016, four at Kings Park and two at Loftus Versfeld.
So, could it be a case of a different competition, different result?
Blue Bulls team
15 David Kriel 14 Marnus Potgieter 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Morné Steyn 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (capt) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Bench: 16 Schalk Erasmus 17 Gerhard Steenekamp 18 Mornay Smith 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Embrose Papier 22 Chris Smith 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.