“We want to create a more attacking mindset. In many ways the players felt restricted last season, they felt bound to the plan on the table, which never should have been the case, that wasn’t the intention. We want to create an environment for the guys to go out and play and enjoy their rugby,” Spies said at the launch of the Bulls’ new Puma jerseys.
For the Bulls to play more expansively, their conditioning will obviously have to improve and Spies said that was a current focus of the team, who have already started their pre-season training.
“We’re stretching ourselves physically at the moment because this is a vital stage of our preparations, we need to build a fitness base. SuperRugby will be played straight through next year because of the World Cup, there won’t be a break, so we don’t want to be carrying any extra weight that will slow our game down. We want to put some speed on the ball, we want to play a lot more of a running game so we need a lot more running metres on the legs,” Spies said.
The current injury status of the eighthman, who has suffered a wretched last two years in terms of being unavailable, is also looking good for him to start the competition.
“The plan is that I will be available for the first game, but I’m not going to rush things, I don’t want to get re-injured. I’ve started the pre-season training although I do sit out some sessions. I don’t want to do anything to rush the arm, I’ll make sure I’m fully fit,” Spies said.
The question of player management is obviously a crucial one in a World Cup year and Spies, as a Springbok hopeful, acknowledged the difficulties.
“They always speak about player management but then you end up playing every game! But it is a World Cup year, so it doesn’t help sparing yourself. Plus it will take me a few weeks to find my feet again, to get used to the intensity of SuperRugby again.”
Spies is confident that the Bulls squad now has great depth and the inexperienced players who were thrown into the deep end this year now have the belief to perform, especially away from home, which has been their downfall in the past.
“It was a tough year, with a new squad and so many of the games were close. A lot of guys had their first taste of SuperRugby, the pace, conditions and intensity of the competition, and they’ll be much better for that. We have some great youngsters from the U21s who will add depth and hopefully get a run. But we have a good core of seniors and you need that experience to bring calm.
“The internal competition for places raises the standard of training and Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss and Lappies Labuschagne are all brilliant signings that will have a massive impact,” Spies said.