Handré Pollard says there is a real sense of optimism in the Bulls camp ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The Bulls have endured a disappointing run of results in Super Rugby over the past few seasons, with the three-time champions having last featured in the playoffs way back in 2013.
Last year, the Bulls executed what they termed a ‘turnaround plan’ aimed at initiating a reversal in fortunes, while Nollis Marais effectively made way for new coach John Mitchell.
The former All Blacks coach has moved quickly to put clearly-defined structures in place ahead of the 2018 season, while naming a youthful and talented 38-man squad on Monday.
Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za, Pollard said there was a definite excitement building in the camp.
‘It’s no secret that we feel that we haven’t performed as well as we would have liked to as a Bulls team in recent seasons. It’s not through any lack of effort, but it just hasn’t come together. But there is a big change now with a new coach, and we’re doing a lot of things differently, and it’s all in our hands to buy into the plan and get things right. We’re very excited and optimistic about the year ahead.’
Earlier this week, Mitchell said there had been a big pre-season emphasis on developing individual skill sets, while he reiterated that the Bulls would be aiming to play for both enjoyment and respect.
Pollard said the squad was certainly enjoying some of the pre-season plans that were already taking shape.
‘We don’t want to be a one-dimensional team, and he [Mitchell] has already brought in some new exciting ideas about how we want to play. We want to perform with confidence and to back our natural instincts.’
The one real surprise to come out of the Bulls’ squad announcement was the selection of three young scrumhalves ahead of Springbok Rudy Paige, with Pollard set to have a new halfback partner this season.
‘There must be unbelievable talent available if a guy like Rudy can’t even make the squad,’ Pollard said. ‘There are lots of exciting youngsters, who are very keen and working extremely hard. So I’m very excited to start playing with them. They’ve got all the talent in the world, and now it’s just about learning quickly and adapting to Super Rugby.’
The Bulls are set to open their Super Rugby campaign against the Hurricanes on 24 February.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images