Flip van der Merwe, former Springbok and Bulls lock, believes Jake White is the right man to take over the beleaguered Pretoria-franchise.
White was recently confirmed as the Bulls’ director of rugby, and the former Springbok mentor will also take over the head coaching duties from Pote Human next year.
For all his successes, White has not always endeared himself to everyone where he has worked, but Van der Merwe believes the Bulls made the right call.
“Yes, he is known for his controversial comments and he is probably not popular everywhere. But he is also a successful coach,” Van der Merwe said in an interview with Afrikaans publication Netwerk24.
The burly lock, who played 37 Tests for the Springboks between 2010 and 2015, added: “I’ll never forget how the Brumbies came and beat us in the 2013 (Super Rugby) semi-final at Loftus. I also think back at the time he was at Montpellier… it’s never easy to win against a team that Jake coaches.”
In 2013, White’s Brumbies scored a last-gasp try to beat the Bulls 26-23 at Loftus Versfeld. They went on to lose 27-22 to the Chiefs in the final in Hamilton.
White, who won the World Cup with the Springboks in 2007, also coached teams like Sharks (South Africa), Montpellier (France) and Toyota Verblitz (Japan).
Van der Merwe, 34, played for the Bulls between 2010 and 2015 before moving to French outfit Clermont Auvergne, where he played before retiring last year.
Van der Merwe also called on White to rope in legendary former Bulls lock Victor Matfield, despite reported differences between the two.
“I think Victor can make a big difference to bring back the Bulls culture amongst the players. It looks like something that has gone missing at Loftus,” Van der Merwe said.
When Super Rugby was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Bulls were 12th on the overall standings, having won just one out of six matches.
– Compiled by Herman Mostert