PRETORIA – Battered, winless and with many bruised bodies and egos, the Bulls quietly slipped back into the country on Monday after a disastrous tour to New Zealand and Tokyo.
They are now a team in disarray after their shock loss to the Sunwolves on the weekend which further compounded what was already a bad situation after their losses against the Blues and Chiefs in New Zealand.
The Bulls are now facing a crisis of epic proportions with a similar one of its kind last seen in the capital in the early 2000’s when the Bulls were the whipping boys of Super Rugby in Heyneke Meyer’s first tenure as their coach.
With only one win out of six matches, the Bulls will need to perform something short of a miracle in order to bring back some dignity into their campaign but it won’t be easy as they now face some of the toughest opposition in the competition in the next few weeks.
First up will be the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and the men in blue will need to quickly find their feet and rectify the mistakes that have dogged them all season and allowed the rot to set in.
As good as the Jaguares are and continue to make strides by the game in the competition, the Bulls will also know that their biggest problem lies within.
It is not that the Bulls don’t have one of the most talented sides on paper, it is their inability to get the best out of each other and play as a unit that has led to their sudden and quick demise.
Much introspection will be needed by all more especially from the players’ side and at the heart of those intimate conversations must be where it is that the players shoulder the responsibility for what has gone wrong.
Questions have been asked of coach Nollis Marais’ ability to coach at Super Rugby level but that was always going to happen with the star studded team he has but fail to produce the results.
What is important is what the men on the field are willing to do to ensure that they regain their stature as individuals and as a team.
Marais and his management staff can do so much, the rest is up to the players to implement on the field.
There are enough Springboks, 11 to be exact, within the Bulls team to help steer the team in the right direction and at the same time, there are also enough good players not to have the kind of results they have produced this season.
But the time for reflection and introspection is short before they get onto the field again to face what is really the Argentinean national side, so there will be a need to be frank and brutally honest in their self-assessment.
What will certainly come out is how as individuals the players have let themselves, the team, their fans, their sponsors and their history down and if there is to be a change of results it will show on the field on Saturday.
After the Bulls heartless performance in Tokyo, Marais can no longer be loyal to players who are not loyal to him and the team and he will this week have to make some tough decisions on which players are worthy of wearing the once mighty and feared Bulls jersey.
If Marais continues to back certain individuals who have hampered the team’s progress this year then he is signing his own death wish and will inevitably suffer the same fate as his predecessor Frans Ludeke who was fired at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
The time is now for Marais to prove his worth and for his players to back up their words by their action on the field.