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CAPE TOWN – Jake White says many players contact him personally to discuss a possible move to the Bulls, and that the “landscape is not different for us” in recruiting top-class talent.
The former Springbok coach was responding to criticism from fans of other teams once more about how he is supposedly “buying trophies” following the latest player linked to Loftus Versfeld, veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis.
The ex-Bok front-rower left French club Montpellier recently, and while White said that there have been ongoing negotiations, no deal has been signed yet for Du Plessis to join the Bulls.
But there have been a string of experienced players that have made their way to Pretoria over the last 12 months, with the most recent recruits being Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Johan Goosen and Jacques du Plessis.
Asked ahead of Friday night’s Currie Cup semi-final against Western Province about the Du Plessis deal and the Bulls’ recruitment strategy, White said: “Our CEO Edgar (Rathbone) and president Willem (Strauss) say it every week… every team have the opportunity to spend R60 million and put a team together. Every team can recruit from anywhere in the world, when there are players who become available and come off contract.
“The landscape is not different for us. The fact that we can attract those types of players, and the players want to be part of the Bulls – and it means you have a chance of achieving success – then it is so.
“You can never keep everybody happy, and everybody loves their teams and supports their teams. How you spend that R60 million… I am just very blessed and humbled that many of those players want to be part of the culture and success of the Bulls. A lot of guys contact me and want to be part of the club.
“We want to be the best rugby football club side in the world. I want to get all the best players in the world to play for the Bulls, and try to win everything every year. Isn’t that the actual goal of all teams in the world?
“The goal is to recruit the best players, best staff and win as many trophies as you can. I saw (Cristiano) Ronaldo signed for Man United the other day, and the reality is that the world in sport is about getting the best players, creating the best teams and creating legacies.
“That’s all we want to do – we want to make sure our supporters are proud of our team.”
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) September 3, 2021
On Du Plessis, White added: “On the record, I must say we haven’t completed this signing – that’s all speculation at this stage as well.
“We’ve had meetings, and that’s the kind of player we want to get back. I have said many times that it is a tough comp in the north – I’ve been there and you need depth, you need experience, guys who’ve been there and played in those conditions.
“So, guys like him, Jacques du Plessis, Harold Vorster, Johan Goosen, it’s important that we get those sorts of guys involved.
“Two teams… from January, it looks like the Currie Cup is going to start, and then you need two quality teams to play week-in and week-out.
“That’s why I said he hasn’t signed – and you can read in between the lines. We haven’t committed to him yet, because obviously that’s very important.
“We were in Benetton when our side played at home against Province and lost something like 40-odd points to 20. And it just proved to be that you are going to need different types of players for different competitions.
“I am very fortunate that my board, my president and my CEO understood that – thank goodness they were with me in Benetton, and they got to experience first-hand what it felt like to lose twice on one weekend.
“So, part of it is creating depth. Every senior player needs to understand their role.”