Bulls players react after losing Saturday's match against Sunwolves in Tokyo. Photo: EPA/Kimimasa Mayama
PRETORIA - The Bulls are officially in crisis mode and the job of coach Nollis Marais is now under threat.

This, after they sunk to a new low with a soulless and inept 21-20 defeat at the hands of the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.

The loss against the Japanese-based outfit not only ended a miserable tour - the Bulls also lost to the Blues and Chiefs in New Zealand - but was also their fifth loss in six matches played thus far. For their dismal efforts, they they remain rooted to the bottom in the Africa 1 conference, just one point ahead of the Sunwolves.

The Bulls horrid run in this year’s campaign spells an end to their pre-season objective of wanting to make the play-offs, and even win the competition, and has now put doubt on whether Marais will continue at the helm of the team after the conclusion of the season.

A defiant Marais conceded that his team is going through a rough patch at the moment but believes that the Blue Bulls Board of Directors still have confidence in his abilities as a coach and that the team will be able to rectify all that has gone wrong now that they are back home.

Marais’ struggling side will play a string of games at Loftus Versfeld, starting this weekend with a tricky clash against the Jaguares, before taking on the Cheetahs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Lions, at Ellis Park, and Hurricanes at home.

“I think every coach’s job is on the line, especially if you are one out of six,” Marais said intransigently.

“I always feel you are under pressure, doesn’t matter what. This is Super Rugby and people expect a lot out of us as coaches.

“I know that our board has got a lot of faith in me but we need to prove it and fix it before next weekend.

“Obviously, we are going home now and have a lot of games at home and we will focus on getting right for the Jaguares and that is the only thing we can control now.”

At the same time Marais is not the only one under immense pressure at Loftus.

Several of the players have underperformed since the beginning of the season and their futures in the capital are also under threat.

While the Bulls have managed to secure the services of many upcoming stars and Springbok players for another year or so, the three-time Super Rugby champions could find themselves having to go to the market to strengthen their squad in order to turn around their fortunes next season and beyond.

Marais is reluctant to place the blame on individual players and says the entire team should shoulder the responsibility of bad results.

“Obviously you feel a little unsatisfied by other guy’s performances but you have to look at it as a whole team and at the end of the day the whole team was not good enough,” said Marais.

The reality now for the Bulls is that they are in survival mode and realistically, only have pride to play for in their remaining matches but Marais is optimistic that they can still turn around their season and finish off in a flurry to restore some dignity to their ailing campaign.

“Obviously, the team knows that they didn’t produce the results.

“We got about nine games to go and out of that nine we have six at home and the supporters must stick with the team. The team knows exactly what to do and they must fix it.”

Pretoria News