If the Vodacom Bulls could land the signature of another top Bok such as Marcell Coetzee it would be a further step in the right direction, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Change is well under way at the Bulls. At this point you could insert the cliche of a ‘new broom sweeps clean’.
With the arrival of new director of rugby Jake White, a sequence of player movements have followed. Considering he has over two decades of coaching experience, the well-travelled White understandably has a clear vision of the personnel he wants at his disposal in order to effect a turnaround at the Bulls.
So far, former Boks Arno Botha, Marcel van der Merwe and Gio Aplon are all recent confirmed signings.
Meanwhile, the Bulls are rumoured to be in the market to sign Coetzee from Ulster, while Jason Jenkins and Cheetahs locks Sintu Manjezi and Walt Steenkamp are others who have been linked with interest from the Bulls.
Add to that the fact Duane Vermeulen is also set to return to Pretoria, and suddenly you start to get a sense of some real firepower that the former three-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions could have at their disposal.
In particular, the signs are there that the Bulls are intent on building a power pack that could lay the foundation for a return to the days when the Pretoria-based side struck fear into the opposition through a set of formidable forwards.
At the moment, White has had no option but to conduct most of his plotting and planning behind the scenes in the Western Cape, where he has been based during this period of lockdown.
Once live rugby returns and the former Bok coach is able to get stuck into his head coaching role on the ground in Pretoria, it will become increasingly evident what brand of rugby he envisages for the Bulls.
Yet, you can expect it to be based around traditional strengths up front, physicality, high work rate and committed defence – largely enforced by a group of trusted playing personnel.
In this respect, Coetzee would be a world-class addition to a new-look Bulls pack.
The 30-cap Springbok has overcome a series of injury setbacks to establish himself as one of the most highly-regarded players at Ulster, and was very much in the World Cup picture after earning a national recall last year.
Unfortunately, Coetzee missed out on the opportunity of earning a ticket to Japan after suffering another unfortunate injury, but it hasn’t dampened his desire to again fight for a Springbok berth ahead of the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour.
Understandably, the Bulls are interested in bringing him home to South Africa, and if they could pull off such a coup it would serve as yet another outstanding addition to their forward resources.