Rest or Rumble? Jake White on challenges of managing Springbok stars

Rest or Rumble? Jake White on challenges of managing Springbok stars

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White admits that the resting requirement for his Springbok stars is forcing him to select weakened teams in the Champions Cup.

White named an understrength team for their away game against the Bristol Bears on Saturday in round three of the tournament - although the in-form Pretoria outfit were still able to come away with a superb win.

Rugby World Cup stars Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, Willie Le Roux and Marco van Staden all missed the clash, and White explained the reason why he had no choice.

"Well, the interesting thing is we've got an obligatory time that we have to give our Boks off; it's eight weeks," he explained to TNT Sports ahead of the clash.

"And considering they had four weeks post-World Cup, the four weeks or five weeks I had to give them was in the season. As I said back home, there's nothing untoward.

"We didn't play on New Year's Day or on the New Year's weekend, so I just thought it made sense, and we didn't play the first weekend in January, so I thought the five weeks probably runs into, you know, those five weeks, which means they missed these two games."

The Bulls boss' comments suggest that he will also be resting players for their home game against Bordeaux next week as well, and when asked if that is undermining the Champions Cup, he was honest about the realities of the schedule.

"It does. I mean, I'd like to play every Springbok every single week but as it is, the lie of the land in our countries is different," he added.

"It's interesting, and it's a debate I've had many times in South Africa: a guy like Handre Pollard goes back and plays for Leicester, whereas a South African guy who is contracted by our franchise has got to have time off. So I'm fully supportive of the people that think the best players should be playing every week."

Despite White's frustrations, the Bulls are still in the running for playoff rugby in both the United Rugby Championship and Champions Cup.

They entered the Champions Cup break ranked sixth overall in the URC with a game in hand compared to the five sides above them.

The former Springbok coach also explained that he is able to rest players individually and is not required to rest all his Springboks at once but added that he prefers to do so.

"Some coaches, and I have been reading between the lines, are doing it at different times. I could quite easily have kept Canan Moodie and say Kurt-Lee Arendse for these two games and then given them their time off," he said earlier in the week.

"I've just decided, en masse, I would rather do it all together and bring them back. It doesn't downplay one or the other.

"Like the Sharks or the Stormers would do it differently. They might do it for five weeks, but that five weeks might be in March, and that is up to them.

"When I looked at our players, who we have, Marcell (Coetzee) needs to play; leaving Marco (Van Staden) out now is not going to influence anything because I gave Marcell some time, having been banned for three weeks and not playing, so it probably fits him with that.

"And I think the two wings play well together, that's the one thing, so I'd rather have them together, Canan and Kurt-Lee, than one and not the other one."

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