Jake White has called on Bulls fans to let bygones be bygones as he embarks on a new journey at the Pretoria-based franchise.
The former Springbok coach was not a fan-favourite at Loftus Versfeld in years gone by – he had “issues” with legendary Bulls lock Victor Matfield and riled up Bulls fans by not preferring Derick Hougaard as his frontline Springbok flyhalf.
White was last week confirmed as the Bulls’ new director of rugby and in an interview with Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, said it was time for Bulls fans to move on from the past.
“To be honest, you don’t get along with everyone the whole time. Even the altercation with Victor – he played for me in the World Cup final and was the man-of-the-match in the final in Paris. Even if people think there was tension between us, he played over 50 Tests for me… something should have worked to get such a performance out of him in the final,” White said.
A reported incident between White and Matfield was when the latter was sent home from Australia. White said the lock was injured but Matfield then played for the Bulls the following week.
White also copped flak among Bulls fans for his preference for Percy Montgomery, who was never a fan favourite at Loftus.
“People may not have liked Monty but people in the Cape didn’t like Naas Botha and we all know how good he played for the Boks.
“Time has moved on and it’s a new era. I’m just grateful that I can be part of a new era in Bulls rugby.”
White added that it was a lifelong dream for him to coach the Bulls.
He said his dad, Johan Westerduin, was a fanatical Blue Bulls fan.
“He would be proud today that I accepted the role. I wanted the job because I knew how mad the people in Pretoria are about rugby. It’s one of the big rugby jobs in the world. People talk about teams like the Crusaders in New Zealand, the Brumbies in Australia. They talk about the Bulls in the same manner. They win trophies. It’s a fantastic tradition to have.”
White won the World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and also coached teams like the Brumbies (Australia), Sharks (South Africa), Montpellier (France) and Toyota Verblitz (Japan).
– Compiled by Sport24 staff