How Bismarck will help Bulls navigate Europe's stormy waters
World Cup-winning hooker Bismarck du Plessis will be playing a ‘very active’ mentoring role at Loftus Versfeld for the next two years.
The Bulls confirmed the signing of the 37-year-old Springbok hooker, making it clear he will be sharing the experience of his 79 Test caps and 250 first-class games with the young talent in Pretoria.
Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White confirmed Du Plessis has signed a two-year contract.
“We have some incredible hookers,” he said, adding: “Grobbies [Johan Grobbelaar] is with the national team.
“I have Jan-Hendrik [Wessels],” he said of the young prop being converted to hooker.
“I have jump-started [elevated] Joe van Zyl ahead of Schalk Erasmus.
“It means I have confidence in the hookers we have.”
White said he has spoken to the young players and explained to them they should not read anything into Du Plessis’ arrival.
“We need two very good teams next year,” White said about a period early in 2022 when the United Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup run concurrently.
He used the example of the team for Saturday’s Currie Cup Final starting in a URC match.
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“If when then have in our other team Lizo [Gqoboka], Trevor [Nyakane] and Bismarck [Du Plessis], Sintu [Manjezi], Walt [Steenkamp], Jacques du Plessis, WJ Steenkamp and Muller Uys – that is not a bad Currie Cup pack.
“Then you have Embrose Papier and Johan Goosen, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Stedman Gans.
“That is not a bad Currie Cup XV.”
The Bulls boss said it is not about one guy coming in and making a difference.
“It is a group effort,” he said of what it will take to run two teams in two separate competitions.
“We are very excited about having him,” he said of signing the veteran No.2.
“I have coached in Europe and we need that kind of player in Europe.
“It is a completely different game.
“We’ll play Connacht, on the west coast of Ireland. It is terrible weather, cold, wet. One of those real tough games in the mud.
“Players like Bismarck and Jacques du Plessis are the ones you need on the field.”
White made it clear Du Plessis’ role is not just that of a coach on the sideline.
“Bismarck is not going to be happy standing on the sideline being an assistant coach.
“When he is on the field he will be helping guys like Mornay Smith, a relatively young tighthead prop, he will help Gerhard Steenekamp and Simphiwe [Matanzima], relatively young loosehead props.
“He will assist them in the art of scrumming, the art of understanding what kind of pressure situations you are under.
“I don’t want to underestimate the value of a guy like that, that has all the experience and can share it on-field, during pressure situations with players who have never been in those situations.”