Bulls coach Pote Human. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ STEVE HAAG
Bulls coach Pote Human. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ STEVE HAAG

After six long years’ failure to qualify for the knockout stages of Super Rugby‚ Bulls coach Pote Human has admitted that the time for excuses is over at Loftus and he has challenged his players to approach the tournament with a positive mentality.

Human — who replaced John Mitchell‚ who has since joined Eddie Jones as the England defence coach — is faced with the mammoth task of helping the once-mighty Bulls to reach the latter stages of the competition and turning Loftus into a fortress again.

The Bulls last featured in the playoffs when they lost 23-26 to the Brumbies at Loftus.

“I am a coach who doesn’t like excuses. If you don’t make it‚ you don’t make it and there is no excuse‚” Human said at Loftus on Wednesday‚ where he announced an experienced squad that  includes Bok veterans Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen to face the Stormers in a friendly in Cape Town on Sunday.

“It doesn’t matter if there is an issue about the referee‚ the weather or the travelling. Wherever we are going to be playing‚ we will go out there to do a job and try to win rugby matches.”

To achieve their daunting mission of impressing their fans and bringing the glory days back to Loftus‚ Human said the Bulls need a good start in their Super Rugby opener at home against the Stormers on February 16.

“The first four games are going to be crucial for us because after that it will be easier to motivate the players‚ because their confidence will be high‚” the Bulls coach said. “If we can get on a roll against the Stormers in our first game‚ we may lay a good foundation of turning this ground into a fortress again and bring back the fans who have been starved success for a long time.

“If we can manage to fill Loftus‚ I know that everyone will be scared of coming here because they will know that it won’t be easy to get results in Pretoria. I remember in 2007 when we got to the semifinals‚ when I arrived for work in the morning there were lots of people standing outside the stadium in long queues to buy tickets and we need that back here.

“Last year [2018] we didn’t use our opportunities‚ and in Super Rugby if you don’t use your opportunities you are gone. We had games that we should have won but we have experienced players in the squad this year and we must be positive‚ stay on the ground and level-headed and do our best every game.

“I think all the guys who are playing this year have some sort of experience in the tournament and that is a big plus for us.”

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant‚ 14 Jade Stighling‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Burger Odendaal‚ 11 Duncan Matthews‚ 10 Handre Pollard‚ 9 Ivan van Zyl‚ 8 Duane Vermeulen‚ 7 Jannes Kirsten‚ 6 Paul Schoeman‚ 5 Lood de Jager (captain)‚ 4 Eli Snyman‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Schalk Brits‚ 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Subs: 16 Corniel Els‚ 17 Simphiwe Matanzina‚ 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen‚ 19 Ruan Nortje‚ 20 Ruan Steenkamp‚ 21 Thembelani Bholi‚ 22 Embrose Papier‚ 23 Manie Libbok‚ 24 Dylan Sage‚ 25 Johnny Kotze‚ 26 Divan Rossouw.