Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bulls’ early Christmas wish — To get SA players back on home soil

There was a silver lining for the Bulls as a number of talented youngsters put their hands up in the loss to Northampton Saints.

After seeing his second string team humbled 59-22 by Northampton Saints in their Champions Cup quarterfinal at Franklin’s Gardens over the weekend, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White again made a plea for South African players to return to the country.

White has previously bemoaned the amount of top SA players playing in various leagues around the world, and again made mention to that fact after the Saints match, admitting that he hoped that they would return to play in SA in the near future.

ALSO READ: ‘We want to be here’ – Jake White after Saints drubbing

“We are loving this competition, but my Christmas wish is to get all the guys that play abroad to come back and play for the South African franchises,” said White.

“Tyrone Green was man of the match in the Harlequins game. How many South African guys are playing in Japan, France and England?

Bring them back

“If only we can bring those guys back. Selfishly as a franchise coach, that’s what I want. I would like to run out here with RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Hanro Leibenberg, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel. Those are just the Bulls players who left us.”

White continued: “We also don’t have the luxury of signing Kiwis, Fijians or Tongans, that the European market has.

“I read this week that England said if you go overseas, you don’t play for England. Ireland say if you play somewhere else, you don’t play for Ireland. The same with New Zealand and the All Blacks.

“We are the only country that allows it. Because we’ve won the World Cup, it seems to be the model everyone wants to follow. I’m not so sure about that. Wearing my provincial hat, I’m not a convert of allowing people to play abroad and still play Test rugby for your country.”

Silver lining

Despite the heavy loss there was a silver lining for the Bulls as a number of talented youngsters put their hands up in the game, which indicates that they are bringing through an exciting crop of players that should they hold onto them, will possibly become stars at the union in the future.

“The interesting thing is Hanekom is 21, I think Seb (de Klerk) is 24 and the lock we played at five, JF van Heerden, is only 19. It’s just the nature of what we have in terms of our young players,” explained White.

“A lot of Springbok players are playing abroad, in Japan, France, England, a lot of our seasoned provincial pro players are playing abroad as well. I said to Phil Dowson (Saints Director of Rugby) in the changing room just now, we’ve no right to come here and just expect to win a game.

“As a team, you got to pay your school fees, you know. It just shows you that you’re going have to put a lot of yards in and you’re going have to put a lot of time and effort in if you want to compete on this level.

“I think it’ll take time but we’re getting closer. This is what I meant about paying our school fees and every time we do that, we take one step closer to where I think we can get.”

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Bulls Rugby Team Champions Cup Jake White