Legendary Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been linked with a move to Loftus Versfeld and director of rugby Jake White has made no excuse for his commitment to sustaining the Bulls’ current run of success.
“Every top franchise in SA has the opportunity to spend R60 million on its squad and try to lure the players that they want,” White told Sport24.
“The goalposts aren’t shifted for us. The fact that we can attract players of the calibre that we have is great. If these type of players ‘buy’ us success, then so be it. You’ll never keep everyone happy.”
The Bulls have made rival fans very unhappy with an unrelenting march on the domestic scene since White’s appointment early in 2020. The reigning Currie Cup champions have again finished top of the table and are set to host Western Province in Friday night’s semi-final.
White is a master talent-spotter and his ability to separate the wheat from the chaff in Pretoria has been central to the Bulls’ radical about-turn, and he has made an obvious effort to support the core of young players retained by the union with the experience of veteran acquisitions, such as Gio Aplon, Marcell Coetzee, Johan Goosen, Lionel Mapoe, Arno Botha and Jacques du Plessis.
Bismarck du Plessis, who is back in South Africa after 108 appearances for Montpellier in six seasons, is confirmed to be on the shopping list as White has tabled an offer for the 37-year-old hooker he coached to the 2007 Rugby World Cup title.
“We haven’t completed that signing by any means,” said the coach. “There are a few issues that need to be ironed out. We have negotiated with him, chatted a bit about our objectives and what he still wants to achieve.
“He’s back on the farm and is weighing up our offer. To be fair to him, he also has a few things to consider. He only returned recently, he has three young children and he needs to decide about his next step. Hopefully it’s to play for the Bulls.”
The 79-Test rake would add significant value at the Bulls where 24-year-old Johan Grobbelaar leads a stable that includes Schalk Erasmus (23), Joe van Zyl (22) and converted prop Jan-Hendrik Wessels (20).
“Bismarck is the calibre of player that we want here,” said White. “I’ve said numerous times that it’s tough competition in the northern hemisphere and you’re going to need experienced players who’ve been exposed to those conditions. It’s important to have a guy like him involved.
“We’re going to need the resources to send out two quality squads, especially early next year when the Currie Cup overlaps with the United Rugby Championship.
“A guy like Bismarck could also be employed to build depth. One week, we can have a situation where Jan-Hendrik is tasked with learning from Bismarck to cope with a crunch Currie Cup game. If we feel Bismarck will be a better option in Connacht, where he can impart his experience on a Joe or Schalk and help them cope with wet, cold conditions, then we need to determine if we’ll have the buy-in from all involved.
“Every senior player needs to come in, understand his role and be 100% happy with that role. That’s part of the theory we’re putting together.
“Who knows? Bismarck is an old Grey boy, Jan-Hendrik is one too. Maybe there’s a bit of a natural emotional bond already.”