CAPE TOWN - Bulls director of rugby Jake White has weighed in on the criticism that he is “buying success” at Loftus Versfeld by saying that many of the new signings are players who have been at the franchise before.
The former Springbok coach was responding to a fan’s question on the Vodacom Bulls app about comments made by union president Willem Strauss recently.
Strauss also addressed the issue a few weeks ago on a WhatsApp statement, where he insisted that the Bulls were operating within their R60 million salary cap despite a number of new faces arriving in Pretoria over the last year.
White put his stamp on the squad with a serious clean-out of the previous regime, including former captain Burger Odendaal, and he brought in several seasoned pros such as Nizaam Carr, Morné Steyn, Gio Aplon, Arno Botha and Walt Steenkamp, amongst others.
More recently, big-name Springboks Marcell Coetzee and Johan Goosen have also been recruited.
“I think what Willem Strauss says is quite right. And everyone has a budget, everyone’s got a salary cap of 60 million, and how you use it is obviously dependent on the coaching staff and, and the players that you can recruit,” White said.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that a lot of players that have been at the Bulls want to return to the Bulls, and a lot of guys that have come haven’t come on exorbitant salaries.
“A guy like Morné Steyn, Gio Aplon… they’ve come and understand that it’s the back-end of their career, and they’ve sacrificed a bigger wage playing somewhere else for the ability and for the honour of playing for the Bulls.
“So, I think Willem has hit it spot-on. We are obviously working really hard behind the scenes to make sure that the squad we put together is balanced in all ways – youth experience, size, speed – all the attributes that we need for a successful squad, especially going into Europe.”
White will name his team later on Friday for Saturday’s Rainbow Cup SA opener against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff), and said the pressure that comes with having won both the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup titles last season is something that has been addressed.
“Good pressure and bad pressure, but what I mean by that is... it’s easier when you’re an underdog. It’s easier when you haven’t won, to come and be motivated,” he said.
“But the challenge we have now is that our fans expect us to win, our supporters expect us to win. And I suppose that people want to beat the Bulls now. So, that pressure is completely different, but that’s a nice pressure.
“What we say to the players is, we don’t want to play to make the cut on the weekend – we want to make sure we are walking down the final hole, leading a big tournament.
“So ja, it’s something that we are relishing and something we talk about a lot, and the fact that we have got a couple of trophies under the belt is obviously good for us, but it’s a new start.”