B team talk 'a slap in the face', says Bulls boss White ahead of Saints clash

Jake White (photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)Jake White (photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)
Jake White (photo by PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP via Getty Images)
Vodacom Bulls boss Jake White says suggestions he has picked a B team to face Saints tonight are 'a slap in the face'.

White has been criticised by some for rotating his squad, leaving some big hitters back in South African ahead of the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final at cinch Stadium at Franklin's Gardens (kick-off 8pm).

But White insists he has picked the 'best team' available to him.

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The Bulls boss said: "One of the things I learned last year was that I didn’t rotate my squad enough. I kept the same players over and over and over and it came back to bite me at the end of the season.

“It has nothing to do with the Munster game (the Bulls host Munster in the United Rugby Championship next weekend), it has everything to do with where we are as a group.

“Six of the guys on this tour have played in three Super Rugby finals. Probably about eight guys have beaten Leinster (in the URC semi-finals) in Dublin. Cameron Hanekom and Stravino Jacobs have come back from injuries and were the number one starters before they got injured.

“Rotation is very important for where we are as a group. More importantly, I’ve received medical advice that some guys who have bumps and bruises after the last massive game we had against Lyon, would be a massive risk to bring them overseas.

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“With the travelling and their injuries, they might not be ready for Saturday. That would mean I would be here with a big group of injuries that would be at risk not to start on Saturday.

“I can’t have four, five, six, seven guys that are 50/50 when we travel and they aren’t ready by Saturday, because the chances of being able to replace them are minimal.

“It’s the best team, I’m confident and looking forward to seeing how this team does.”

White added: “We want to win. We are the one union that took the Currie Cup seriously when other unions were playing guys who weren’t seasoned provincial players. So every competition that I coach in, is to win.

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“It’s a slap in the face. People are talking about A and B teams. This team played nearly every game two years ago.

“We want to get to a point where there is no A or B-team. We have to create depth. I want the Bulls to become a powerhouse club where it doesn’t matter which team or combination you put on the field. We have to get to the point where we are competitive.

“These guys have a wonderful opportunity in a great game, a quarter-final of the European Cup. It’s a wonderful opportunity to use and make memories.

“The one thing I know about this team is that there are no niggling injuries, no guys that are 50/50. These combinations have been very good at training. Sometimes as a coach, you have to reward them with big games.

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“First prize is a win and with that win, I would like to create competition for the jersey.”

White has made 13 changes to the team that thrashed Lyon 59-19 in the Champions Cup last-16 clash at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.

But he said: “All these guys, every single one of them, have started in the URC or Champions Cup, or both. Every single one of them.

“When is the right time to play them, if they haven’t got lots of game time? If I leave it another week, it means another week of not playing. If I play them against Munster, we are seen as being disrespectful to the defending URC champions.

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“There is no right time. This is the best team we have, on medical advice. We’ve had some guys who have had an operation, some guys have been told not to travel, some guys have gone for scans today.

“I told the group at the beginning of the year that there will be times that they will be asked to play. It might not be the team that they or I choose, because of circumstances.

“When is the right time? Do we only play certain players in games when it’s not important? Then why would you have a squad? I’m under the planning that I want to give them opportunities in games that are important too, not just games that the public think they should play.”

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