Mitchell starts with 'injured' squad

Mon, 17 Jul 2017 21:09

INJURY UPDATE: New Blue Bulls coaching boss John Mitchell on Monday learnt that his job to improve the Pretoria outfit's fortunes have just become a lot more complicated.

Mitchell, the new Executive of Rugby, arrived in Pretoria this past Sunday - after completing his obligations in the United States.

However, when he arrived at Loftus Versfeld on Monday, to start preparations for the opening round of the Currie Cup competition, he was met by some rather unpleasant news.

The Bulls will travel to Kimberley on Saturday to take on a dangerous Griquas outfit.

And they will do so without Currie Cup captain Ruan Steenkamp, who suffered a hamstring niggle'' in the Bulls loss to the Stormers in their final Super Rugby match this past weekend.

While it is not serious, he won't be risked this week.

Dries Swanepoel has not yet recovered from a quad contusion, sustained in the domestic challenge competition semifinal against Western Province two weeks ago.

He will also not be available for selection this weekend.

Wing Jamba Ulengo has started selected training sessions, but will not be available for selection this weekend.

Mitchell would have hoped for better news on the injury front, given that the Bulls are coming off their worst Super Rugby season in almost two decades.

Their 15th-place finish (with just four wins in 15 outings) is the worst since the disastrous four-year period from 1999 to 2002 - when the Bulls won just four matches and finished last in the Super 12 in three of the four years.

Mitchell revealed on Monday that he would be "hands on" at training, despite Nollis Marais having been listed as Currie Cup coach.

There has been communications between Mitchell and Marais in the last month of Super Rugby, but things are likely to change dramatically now that Mitchell is in town and fully focused on salvaging the wreck that is Bulls rugby.

"I just flew in last [Sunday] night and we have had a day together before I left for the United States [back in May]," Mitchell said of the enormous task awaiting.

"We [Mitchell and Marais] shared a little bit of dropbox video as well, to align the coaches to the way I think, and the new methodology that we are adopting.

"It was really important for them to try some of that stuff, which they did, and which is good.

"We kinda got started. Now that I'm in, I'll be playing an assistant coaching role in the Currie Cup in the area of attack - mainly attack and then looking at getting total alignment to the methodology.

"Its more a lot of questions, identifying what they have been doing and seeing where we can progress each and every day.

"The next couple of weeks will be busy days," Mitchell added.

Mitchell also revealed that former All Blacks flyhalf Carlos Spencer will not be joining the Bulls as an assistant coach.

Reports had linked Spencer and former Lions strength and conditioning coach Wayne Taylor would also arrive at Loftus soon.

However, Mitchell dismissed it is just a rumour.

"Carlos [Spencer] is contracted in Japan, and I think that rumour should be squashed," Mitchell said.

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Fri, 29 September 2017
Sharks v Golden Lions 17h00 Durban
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 18h35 Sixways
Newcastle Falcons v London Irish 18h35 Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Leinster v Edinburgh 19h35 RDS Arena
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 19h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Connacht 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 30 September 2017
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs 12h00 Kimberley
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Welford Road
Munster v Cardiff Blues 13h30 Thomond Park
Cheetahs v Ospreys 14h00 Bloemfontein
Northampton Saints v Harlequins 14h00 Franklin's Gardens
Wasps v Bath 14h00 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 14h35 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Bloemfontein
Dragons v Kings 18h35 Rodney Parade
Sun, 01 October 2017
Argentina v New Zealand 22h30 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Blue Bulls v Western Province 12h30 Loftus Versfeld
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 10 9 0 1 43
Free State Cheetahs 9 6 0 3 30
Western Province 9 5 0 4 27
Golden Lions 9 4 0 5 25
Pumas 10 4 0 6 24
Blue Bulls 9 3 0 6 20
Griquas 10 2 0 8 16