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Jake White goes off script about what he really thinks of the Lions

By Rugby365
Jake White, Director of Rugby of Vodacom Bulls looks on prior to the Investec Champions Cup match between Bristol Bears and Vodacom Bulls at Ashton Gate on January 13, 2024 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The Lions aren’t a dangerous team and did not put the Bulls under pressure once during their Round 10 United Rugby Championship fixture at Ellis Park on Saturday, says Jake White, the Bulls’ Director of Rugby.

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The Bulls scored four tries in their 25-10 victory over the Lions.

According to White, his side was never under the pump and he feels the assumption, written up by the media, that the Lions run from everywhere is just not true.

“You guys are writing that up. They [the Lions] don’t play any rugby in their half, they’re not dangerous, I mean they don’t put us under pressure once in multi-phase attack. This week and the last time.

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“And it was obviously [Sanele] Nohamba’s sidestep in the first game,” White said at the post-match press conference, referring to the game two weeks ago at Loftus Versfeld.

“Today it was a chip kick and a bounce – it wasn’t like we were under the pump five, six, seven, eight phases. So, I don’t really agree that they run from everywhere and all that. They probably play the least amount of rugby of all the teams we play against,” he continued.

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White conceded that his side did not look sharp, especially in the first half. But he wrote that down to a very hot changeroom that awaited the Bulls when they arrived at Ellis Park as the air conditioning did not work due to loadshedding.

“It’s quite bisar, we are in the changerooms, and the aircons don’t work at Ellis Park, so I think we were probably a bit flat because we sat in the changerooms – we thought we wouldn’t go out because it’s hot out on the field. Only found out the aircons aren’t working in our changeroom, so we were hotter in there than we were on the field.

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“That’s when we decided to stay out at half time, it was better out there than it was in the changeroom.”

Looking back at the previous time these two teams met at Loftus two weeks ago, White felt his side made a huge step up this time around.

“I think to come here and get a bonus point, especially after the last time we went to the last kick of the game to win it obviously when [Jordan] Hendrikse missed that kick.

“So to go and turn that around two weeks later and get four tries, and a bonus point, not many teams have done that, so obviously very happy about that.”

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He admitted that the replacements entered the fray at exactly the right time as they brought much-needed energy at a time when his team needed them the most.

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“We get to the point where we have a guy like [Johan] Goosen and Akker van der Merwe, two Springboks on your bench. It just reiterates everything I have been saying. You need that kind of calibre player in your squad if you want to play at the highest level.

“And you saw what they did, both of them came on, played really well, took charge – Akker was fantastic in that second half when he came on.

“There’s a difference between the science of coaching and the art of coaching and you can’t tell a player, ‘there’s 20 minutes left, you’ve got to go on’ because it might be the exact wrong time to put someone on,” White said.

“But I’m very happy, all the coaches were on par, and bounced things off the forwards coaches at half-time about who we should bring on. Because sometimes you get it right and sometimes you get it wrong.

“That [six-two split on the bench] definitely worked in our favour, having the bench we did and the timing of how much game time they got,” a relieved White explained.

“The difference is we were just a little bit more aware today and took that away from them,” the coach said.

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