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Ken Borland


Jake critical of budgetary imbalances & lucrative sale of SA players overseas

Posted on May 04, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was critical on Tuesday of the sale of South African rugby players for lucrative amounts to overseas clubs, pointing out that it is budgetary imbalances that have forced him to send a largely second-string outfit to do battle against the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in their second Champions Cup match.

White had been expected to bring back his big guns for the trip to south-west England, especially after his back-up players did such a superb job in beating Lyon at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. But the fact that the Bulls have to travel to Cape Town next week for a crucial United Rugby Championship clash with the Stormers, and it is a short week because they will only arrive back on Monday for a Friday night game, has led the coach to stick with the bulk of the side from last week.

“We’re playing against teams who have a budget of R180 million compared to our R70 million. The list goes on-and-on of Saffers doing really well overseas and if we could find ways of bringing them into our regional squads then we would be fighting a gunfight with a gun,” White said on Tuesday.

“So I will choose the same sort of team as last week, because we have to travel back on economy class and then go to Cape Town to play the Stormers next Friday night. We will only arrive back midday Monday.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from an Exeter side we respect, but we have to make sure we’re at our best against the Stormers. I would like to do well in both competitions, but I am a realist.

“There’s no way we can beat Exeter away and then the Stormers away in less than a full week. We can only use the resources we have, if we were playing the Stormers in a different week then I would definitely take other guys,” White said.

Sending a second-string outfit to Exeter is perhaps a shrewd move because it means there is no pressure on the Bulls, and the home side will know any slip-up will echo through the league and leave them possibly needing to beat White’s men at Loftus Versfeld in mid-January, which will be a tough ask.

The Stormers are also under pressure to win at home this weekend, due to their loss in France, meaning their leading Springboks might have to front up twice in seven days.

“Exeter will be a big test for us, they’re a great team full of internationals, but they will also know that they have to get it right, there’s no way they’ll be thinking it will be an easy outing,” White said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us, in front of a massive crowd, to experience again what it’s like in a pressure situation, that’s where we’ll grow as a group.

“I expect the team to just give it a fair crack, give it as good a go as we can. You often talk about it ‘not getting tougher than this’, but this time it genuinely can’t get tougher.

“But I expect us to roll up our sleeves and embrace the fact that it is tough, give it as good a shot as we can. Every time this group has been challenged, they have accepted it, and often achieved it,” White said.

Bulls Squad:Dylan Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Sebastian Lombard, Reinhardt Ludwig, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Muller Uys, WJ Steenkamp, Bernard van der Linde, Morne Steyn, Stravino Jacobs, Carlton Bannies, Stedman Gans, Sibongile Novuka, Lizo Gqoboka, Joe van Zyl, Jacques van Rooyen, Merwe Olivier, Cameron Hanekom, Phumzile Maqondwana, Tielman Nieuwoudt, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smit, Niel le Roux, Kabelo Mokoena, Juan Mostert, Wandisile Simelane, Tian Lange.

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