BOLD STATEMENT: ‘To all the critics, I ask that you lay it off’

‘To all the critics, I ask that you lay it off’ — Jake White on Willie le Roux signing for Bulls

Bulls coach Jake White is astounded by how quickly Loftus Stadium native and two-time Rugby World Cup winner Willie le Roux has adapted to his new surroundings.

Le Roux has been chosen to start at fullback in the Bulls’ United Rugby Championship (URC) match against the seasoned Connacht at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday at 5 p.m. White and his new teammates have been working with Le Roux for the past week.

After supporting South Africa in their World Cup championship defense in France, the seasoned Springbok player has joined White’s team.

Prior to that, the utility back had played two years with Wasps in England and three years as a club rugby player for Toyota Verblitz in Japan.

In the fight to win the URC and Champions Cup for the first time, White is ecstatic to have the 34-year-old in his arsenal and has laughed off those who have criticized the signing of Le Roux.

“Although I have never coached him, I saw him play as a U-19 in Boland back in the day and never imagined he would become what he is today.” White remarked, “I read what people are saying about him on social media and I find it unbelievable.”

“He is amazing; even though he has only been here for a week, it feels like he has been here for six months. He acts as though he is a coach there.

“I am excited to watch how he performs tomorrow [Saturday] because I know people will recognize his value,” he remarked. “He is incredibly skilled and clever.”

In response to criticism, the World Cup-winning coach said, “To all the critics, I ask that you lay off because he is probably one of the best, if not the best, player to have played for the Boks and if he is not the best he is definitely the cleverest.”

“I can’t believe it’s only been a week; the guy is amazing.” He was inquiring about our attacking and defensive strategies even during the World Cup, and now that he is here, it seems as though he has been here for the entire season. Now that I know why he is consistently chosen, I can see why.

“I’m amazed at what he’s accomplished in just one week. It’s similar to having an experienced coach by your side.

“Canan [Moodie], Kurt-Lee [Arendse], and Marco [van Staden] all said he is amazing to play alongside, and now I see it too. I did hear this from the other players before coming here.

“I hope that everyone else notices it as well.”

Le Roux’s arrival and the return of their fellow Bok stars have the Bulls thrilled, but they will miss co-captain Marcel Coetzee, who is serving a three-game suspension.

This comes after a risky tackle that resulted in his red card during last week’s loss to Edinburgh.

“I attended his hearing in order to observe how things would play out, but I stayed out of it. It would be challenging for them [the hearing committee] to enter and enter without supporting their referee, as that would indicate that they do not support the referee. Although it’s not ideal, this is the reality of what we currently have to deal with, according to White.

“Even though we are not sticking with the same guys, the induction of young guys a year later has given me and this team more confidence.” Additionally, it’s a good idea to rotate your squad because it benefits the players who aren’t on the field.

Because of their inspiring victory over the Sharks in Durban last weekend, White anticipates that the Irish team will be full of confidence when they visit Loftus.

They work well together. It is impossible to triumph in Durban, particularly after they have just arrived by plane. They are undoubtedly among the most successful teams right now, according to White.

I am familiar with Andy Friend, and I believe they have made some changes. They are a formidable opponent, and when we played them away from home, they defeated us by playing direct rugby. When they play, as we saw last week, they go for it as soon as they get near the try line.

“Their result against the Sharks will give them confidence coming to Loftus. However, we must not get sucked into that but rather focus and do what we need to do from our side.”

Bulls Team: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Reinhardt Ludwig, 5. Ruan Nortje (Captain), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw, 8. Nizaam Carr, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Jaco van der Walt, 11. Sergeal Petersen, 12. David Kriel, 13. Stedman Gans, 14. Sebastian de Klerk, 15. Willie le Roux.

Replacements: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Cyle Brink, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Canan Moodie.

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