VIDEO: How Zondagh will fix the Bulls
WATCH as the Bulls’ new Director of Rugby, Alan Zondagh, explains how he will cure the ills that have plagued the franchise in recent years.
Development! That is the key word from Zondagh during his first formal media briefing.
However, it is not conventional development.
It is identifying talent and then developing them into world-class players. And there is also ‘developing’ the coaching structures.
At the announcement of his appointment in Pretoria this week, Zondagh boldly stated: “I think I’ve got an eye for talent.”
However, identifying talent and nurturing it are vastly different aspects and Zondagh is well aware of that.
“You can get the best players from school, but if you don’t really work with them properly and don’t develop them continuously, they are not going to be the players you want them to be by the time they get to professional rugby,” he told a media briefing.
Speaking about the priorities of his new position, Zondagh said “bringing the public back to Loftus” is right up there.
“This is not an easy job, but there are exciting times ahead,” he said, adding that he will be looking at the structures at Loftus Versfeld.
“There isn’t much that needs to be changed, but we will make a few alterations.
“We have excellent personnel in the structures here at the moment, so my goal will be to strengthen the coaching structure. That will allow the union to handle setbacks, like the departure of John Mitchell, much better.”
However, when it comes to player development, Zondagh feels franchises and unions have to look at the way they conduct themselves.
“We all have a financial problem,” he said, adding: “We have to do things a bit different.
“I’ve worked with young players for many years and I think the most important thing at a union or franchise like this is the Super Rugby team. And if we get young players into our system, we have to develop them in such a way that they are knocking on the Super Rugby door every year.
“I speak to a lot of unions across South Africa and they agree players might win Under-19 and Under-21 competitions, but there isn’t really a player who came through that system and is knocking on the door of Super Rugby.
“That is real development. It’s no use winning at U19 and U21 levels every year, but you’re not really making progress in Super Rugby.
“I coached in Europe and I know you now need bigger squads. [However], we had a squad of 36 players at Saracens. The last six of the 36 were our young players.
“We have to look at our systems and get it to where our young players break into the Super Rugby squads. That is my main job.
“It takes a player about five years before he gets to senior rugby. So you have to invest five years into most players. And I’m not talking about the Pollards, Lambies. I’m talking about the rest of the boys.”