Captain Marcell Coetzee is confident the Vodacom Bulls will continue to grow as a team while he is playing club rugby in Japan.
The Springbok flank will make his last appearance for the Bulls on Sunday, against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus, before joining the Kobe Steelers.
The Japan League One season runs from 18 December to 23 April, after which Coetzee will return to the Bulls.
“Before the season started, I chatted with Jake [White] and he said that we have to look at a successor and we identified a few guys,” said Coetzee on Wednesday. “I think the leadership, in general, is good.
“There are still the old guys like Bismarck [du Plessis] and Morne Steyn and then you have young guys like Elrigh Louw and Ruan Nortje. There is also someone like Harold Vorster.
“I think the systems that Jake implemented will take the group forward. I have a lot of confidence in that.”
Coetzee’s stint in Japan will boost his bank balance, but he also sees it as a good rugby-playing opportunity.
“As a player, you are always looking to develop certain things. You want to grow as a player.
“I know from the last time playing in Japan [for the Honda Heat in 2015-16] there is a very high tempo. You are running a lot and it might be a good thing for my game going forward.
“The URC is getting bigger and it is getting tougher, but most of all it is getting quicker as well.
“You can always pick something up wherever you go. You keep on developing as a player. You just want to stay ahead of it.
“It’s going to keep you on your feet coming back as well. You are just looking to come back a better player.”
Coetzee confirmed he remains committed to the Bulls.
“The positive thing about that [Japan stint] is I know I am coming back. I missed my country too much while I was at Ulster for five years.
“I am coming back to the Bulls and they are backing me. It is an honour to play for the Bulls and you just want to live every moment of it.
“Home is where the heart is and that is definitely in Pretoria.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 27, 2022
Photo: Luca Sighinolfi/BackpagePix