Pierre Spies has been awarded the Bulls captaincy while Wynand Olivier has been named as his deputy.
The Bulls have lost a number of senior players to overseas contracts and retirement. Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Gary Botha and Gurthro Steenkamp will continue their careers abroad, while Victor Matfield will hang up his boots after the Barbarians vs Wallabies clash at the end of the month.
Spies was up against Chiliboy Ralepelle for the Bulls captaincy, and the Bulls management felt the Bok No 8 was the right man to succeed Matfield. This despite Ralepelle’s record at age group level (he captained the Baby Boks to a World Championship title in 2005) and the fact that he’s already led the senior Bok team, albeit in two tour matches.
‘It was not such a big surprise though, as I had it in the back of my mind that I could be asked to lead the team when Victor retired,’ Spies said. ‘I was privileged in my career at the Bulls and the Springboks to play with great captains and I could certainly learn a lot from them.
‘I believe a captain should lead from the front and I hope that will be something that I can do successfully. There are huge challenges ahead, but we are all looking forward to that. This group is younger than in previous years, but we have the same goals as those squads and that is to win the competition.’
Meanwhile, Spies’s vice-captain will be sidelined for the next two months. Olivier has undergone a shoulder operation and will only be available to the Bulls in early February.
‘I like that responsibility. Anyone who wants to write off the Bulls because we lost players, do so at their own peril. I think we have a squad that can with the competition again. There are new faces, so there will be a challenge to make sure all share the same vision, but I see no problems in that. We have a great management team and coaching staff and they will get everyone to pull in the same direction.’