Home Sport Marutlulle primes Bulls pack for Griquas showdown

Marutlulle primes Bulls pack for Griquas showdown

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Edgar Marutlulle of the Bulls in action during a 2017 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Loftus
FILE – Edgar Marutlulle of the Bulls in action during a 2017 Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at Loftus. Picture: Gavin Barker, BackpagePix

Having served as the scrum coach for the Bulls during their Currie Cup campaign, former hooker Edgar Marutlulle is enjoying the transition from player to coach.

Cape Town — Having played for SA Schools and at the Under-19 World Cup, Edgar Marutlulle would’ve hoped to one day play Test rugby for the Springboks.

It didn’t quite work out that way for the hooker from Potchefstroom High School for Boys, with the South Africa A side in 2016 the highest level reached.

Injuries and a lack of genuinely consistent playing opportunities saw Marutlulle move from the Lions to the Leopards, then the Southern Kings in Gqeberha, where after a shift to Pretoria to join the Bulls in 2016 looked like it might become the big chance that he had been waiting for.

At the age of 30, though, he sustained a serious ankle injury that kept him out of action for months, but fortunately, a coaching opportunity at the Bulls came about in 2018, and he has been armed with a whistle instead of worrying about his own line-out-throwing or scrumming since.

Now he is the scrum coach for the Bulls Currie Cup team.

“The injury wasn’t recovering as well as we thought it would, and during that time, we were fortunate to win the Under-19 competition,” Marutlulle said from Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s clash against Griquas in Kimberley (2.30pm kickoff).

“You contemplate as a player, when does my due date arrive (to retire)? I felt it was a good time to make the transition (to a coach), although I didn’t announce my retirement as I was still in two minds about how to go about it.

“Next thing, we’re doing the Under-21s with myself, Nollis (Marais), David (Manuel) and Hayden (Groepes), and the next competition was the Under-20s with myself and Hayden.

“So, we just slowly start making the transition easier because you feel you’re getting a lot more exposure to the coaching. Over the last four years, I’ve been coaching with all the junior coaches of the Bulls, with the prospect of maybe coming back.

“But after winning the Under-19 competition, I decided that the coaching isn’t so bad, so I should probably carry on and see it as a long-term career.”

Marutlulle, now 34, added that it was a “privilege” to work with two World Cup-winning coaches at the Bulls, Jake White and Gert Smal, as well as the experienced Russell Winter and Joey Mongalo.

But he will have to drill the Bulls pack hard in the set-pieces to be ready for Griquas, who have beaten Western Province and the Pumas, and will look to add the Bulls’ scalp in Kimberley on Saturday.

“What Griquas really do well is their recruitment – getting those 22-23-24-year-old players, and sometimes a 29-30-year-old who has left another union and is highly motivated to play and really believe they should be at another union,” Marutlulle said.

“They’ve got a good coaching staff, with Barend Pieterse and Wian du Preez as their forward coaches. It’s really easy to psyche them up and get them motivated, as they all want to prove themselves on a weekly basis.

“But once you see our line-up for this weekend, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how seriously we are taking this game. We really are up for the challenge, and hope to test them in terms of intensity, and also using our experience to see how well they are prepped for us as well.”

@ashfakmohamed

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