Bulls wary of White’s influence
17 Apr 2012
Frans Ludeke says Brumbies coach Jake White has given his side a decidedly South African flavour that has amplified their threat.
White has led a young Brumbies side to the top of the Australian conference, winning four of seven matches. There were fears prior to the start of the campaign that the Canberra-based team would struggle after the departure of several influential senior players, including Rocky Elsom and Stephan Hoiles.
However, White has managed to forge his charges into a competitive outfit and done so off the back of a notably more pragmatic approach than they were known for under his predecessor Andy Friend.
‘Jake has done really well at the Brumbies and you can see he has put a South African stamp on their play,’ Ludeke told keo.co.za. ‘Their mauling has been particularly good. That wasn’t really a big weapon for the Brumbies before but they’ve used it to good effect throughout the tournament. Also their physicality at the gainline has improved. He has selected big, powerful forwards and they’ve made an impact in the collisions.
‘You look at other areas, like their tactical kicking for example, they’re far less likely to take risks inside their territory now. That said they haven’t lost their ability to hurt you from broken field. Jake has found a great balance with them and added to their traditional strengths.’
White has warned his players to expect a hostile reception from the Loftus crowd and Bulls players as well as the South African media whom he intimated would be used to unsettle the squad through negative reporting on him. ‘That’s why I’m so glad this win [against Melbourne] comes now, because it helps me explain to the players what’s coming,’ White said. ‘What I will do in our team meetings is just pre-warn them about what’s coming, so they’re not overawed.
‘Nothing untoward, nothing illegal, they just love their rugby, they want to win and will put pressure wherever they can. It’s something we have to handle, and that’s the uniqueness of going back to South Africa, as a South African coach, with a team that doesn’t understand it.’
Ludeke refused to comment on those statements, preferring to highlight White’s threat to them. ‘He knows our players and our playing structures well. He would have had insight into both from his time coaching the Springboks. So we know the Brumbies will be well prepared.
‘But we have a strong belief in what we are doing. We know that when we get the execution [of their game plan] right we are very hard to stop. We will have to put the Brumbies under consistent pressure to get the result. They won’t fold and they’ll give us few scoring opportunities. They are a team full of character.’
By Ryan Vrede