- Jake White said there was a buzz about in the Bulls changeroom ahead of their Currie Cup final clash against the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday.
- He wants his charges to enjoy the occasion and embrace the fact that they earned a home final after topping the log.
- White said handling finals pressure doesn’t get easier with time, even if one has won the Rugby World Cup before.
Director of rugby Jake White said there was a buzz in the Bulls changeroom ahead of their make-or-break Currie Cup final against the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The Bulls are in pole position to hoist the trophy for the first time in over a decade after earning the top log spot and earning a home final, following their defeat of the Lions in the semi-finals.
“It’s going to be tough but I’m fully confident. We’ve been waiting to be in a final,” said White, who guided the Bulls to the Super Rugby Unlocked trophy in this his first year in charge.
“We haven’t won it for ages but it’s so nice to be in the changeroom because there’s a buzz.
“When there’s a buzz, all you must do is just fuel it. You’ve got to keep helping the youngsters understand what they’ve got.
“It’s going to be a final, no different to the previous Currie Cup finals. It’s going to be a massive game.
“All I’ve got to do is channel the players in the right way, get them to understand that they are playing at home and it’s a great opportunity for them.
“Hollywood stars don’t become world champion boxers. There’s a reason they come out of the ghettos – it’s because they’re hungry.
“We haven’t won for 11 year, so let’s see.”
The Bulls, led by Springbok World Cup-winner Duane Vermeulen, are up against a Sharks team that has struggled on the highveld since the restart after the pandemic outbreak.
However, Sean Everitt’s men showed they have the guts to win away from home with a tough victory over Western Province at Newlands last week that put them on the path to the final.
White said his message to his Bulls charges would purely be to enjoy and embrace the occasion – not worry too much about the pressure.
“My message is going to be just enjoy it,” said White.
“They’ve worked really hard to get a home final. We’ve shown that we can beat these sides.
“There will always be pressure but I just want them to enjoy it and to go out there and embrace the situation.
“I want them to believe that the work we’ve done during the year is going to be good enough for them to get a result if they do it.”
Being a World Cup-winning Bok coach himself from 2007 in France, White said he hoped to draw on his fast experience as a well-travelled head coach that’s worked in many countries and faced similar high-pressure moments in the past.
“I don’t think it gets easier because the expectation becomes greater and greater,” he said.
“When you’ve tasted, you’ve felt what it’s like to win, you want to win again.
“But in saying that, in 2007 sitting in the World Cup final changing room we only had Os du Randt who had won a World Cup and England had about 14 or 15 guys who won it in 2003.
“Thompson, Vickery, Kay, Wilkinson, Cueto … the list goes on and on. The reality that hit was how much experience counted.
“Let’s not forget that Thomas du Toit, Lukhanyo Am, Aphelele Fassi, Curwin Bosch have won the Currie Cup and some guys who were at Free State like Henco Venter and Ox Nche have won it as well.
“That counts for a lot. That’s where coaches and players feel pressure.
“You want to put them in that situation but you always know how much experience counts for.
“Does it get easier? No, it doesn’t. But I’m hoping that the experience I’ve got and lessons I’ve learnt can transfer into the players as well.”
15 David Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes (from): 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marnus Potgieter, 24 Nizaam Carr, 25 Gerhard Steenekamp, 26 Keagan Johannes, 27 Jade Stighling
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Substitutes: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Manie Libbok