Jake White defended the decision to take the reins as the Vodacom Bulls’ Currie Cup head coach and effectively demote Edgar Marutlulle, saying it was done in everyone’s best interests. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Bulls announced on Thursday that, following a meeting between White and Marutlulle, a decision had been made to allow the director of rugby White to take charge as head coach for the rest of the Currie Cup campaign.
As a result, Marutlulle stepped back to resume his duties with the union’s junior teams.
This came as the Bulls endure one of their most difficult seasons to date, having lost six games in a row in the cross-continental tournaments, while domestically, they are 0-4 in the Currie Cup after a recent humiliating loss to newly-promoted Griffons.
Despite the team’s struggles, the decision to remove Marutlulle from his post had mixed reception, seeing as he was the union’s first black senior head coach and only had three games in charge (White ran the Currie Cup team for the match against Western Province in Pretoria) in a campaign that has been demanding on player resources.
“I met with Edgar. He was very relieved that he didn’t have to go through the pressure,” White explained. “When I chatted with him, I could see the pressure was building. I didn’t think it was fair to expose him to all this pressure. Edgar is a very talented young coach. We realised that he needed more time to put a team together. This has nothing to do with his ability.
“I am fully aware that people will read into different things, but we genuinely want to look after his development.
“Pressure is a big thing. We haven’t had a good campaign and I feel pressure and I have been doing this for 40 years. If we didn’t do anything and Edgar had a nervous breakdown, then people would ask me why I didn’t help the guy. I don’t think it’s fair for him to endure such a tough season.
“It’s not a panicked response. It’s a case of making decisions in everyone’s best interests. Edgar said he wanted to put the union first. Sometimes in this business you have to go backwards to go forwards. Edgar is still very important to this union.”
White admitted that this was one of the most difficult periods of his 40-year career as a coach, while outlying that he was willing to do anything possible to get the Vodacom Bulls out of the hole.
“It is the toughest time as a coach in a long time. Collectively, we are looking at the reasons we are in this position. I will get it right.
“I have to change the depth in this squad. That’s why I have gone hands on. There are players who aren’t playing as they should, who aren’t showing why they deserve to be there at this union. I am here to make sure the guys who aren’t good enough won’t be here next year.
“The players aren’t happy that we aren’t doing well, I’m not happy and the people above me aren’t happy. We have to change it.
“Going forward we need Springboks. We did really well last year and exceeded expectations. The reality has now set in. I can’t just put my head in the sand as head of rugby. I am working hard on recruitment, restructuring the coaching staff and looking at what we need once the audit on all three campaigns is done. If changes are needed, they have to be made. There is no free ride for anybody.”
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