JOHANNESBURG - It is not often that Bulls coach John Mitchell finds himself in a selection conundrum, but injuries and a lack of match fitness to certain players could force Mitchell to start with three openside flankers in his team to face the Melbourne Rebels at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The injury to Hanro Liebenberg, return from the Commonwealth Games of Tim Agaba and return from injury of Nic de Jager has left the Bulls thin in their loose forward resources, but Mitchell has seemingly found an unconventional solution that will likely compound the Rebels problems on game day.
As unconventional as it may be, Mitchell is seriously toying with the idea of having three of his best poachers on the field at the same time in Roelof Smit, Marco van Staden and Shaun Adendorff.
While Smit and Van Staden worked seamlessly in unison in helping their side dismantle the Sharks last weekend in Durban, they are likely to be joined by Addendorf at number eight with the Bulls primary objective of starving and stealing possession from the Rebels.
With much thought behind the idea of the three fetchers, Mitchell could be on to another winning masterplan that could bring the Bulls their third consecutive victory considering that the Rebels are a side who thrive off turnovers and in bossing the breakdown.
“It will be a long shot for Tim and a long shot for Nic as well. I’m looking at Shaun Addendorf so I might end up having three sixes in my mix. The other two are terriers together. Unless somebody has met the standards they won’t make it,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell is also not worried that he could lose a lineout option at the back as he believes that any of the three loose forwards can jump in the lineout if required.
“We are developing them as jumpers as well. Marco was jumping the other day with his big, wide body. I think Richie McCaw developed into being a jumper in the end so there is no reason why those three can’t do that as well,” added Mitchell. "If we have to go to our lineout we have Jason (Jenkins) as well.
"Unfortunately one has to make the best of the resources they you have They are more than physical, those guys. I wouldn’t want to run into them or one of those three. I think even Shaun is bigger than Roelof and Marco so we are very fortunate, if it does go Shaun’s way on the weekend.”
While Mitchell seems to have made the best out of a rather tricky selection poser, he will have to be as mindful of the approaching threat of the Rebels who have been the surprise package of this year’s Super Rugby competition and will be seeking redemption after their shock loss to the Jaguares in Melbourne last weekend.
“They are a good side. Clearly obviously with Australia reducing teams they’ve become stronger and they have some good Western Force players in that side and obviously the Force coach in Dave (Wessels) who has gone there,” said Mitchell.
"They’ve done really well and they are second in the competition in terms of tries scored. They score a lot off turnover ball so you have to be mindful about holding onto your own ball otherwise you will be scrambling a fair bit on the day.
"Mafi their number eight is an exceptional carrier of the ball and they’ve got good set-piece and they are a good all round team. Them and the Waratahs are within points from each other in terms of topping their conference."
"They probably see the weekend as a blip against the Jaguares and they obviously flogged the Sharks in Melbourne so they will be mindful of that. They will want to get their tour off to a good start as well."