One of the sides I do feel particular excited about this year is the Vodacom Bulls who have not done well the last couple of years in Super Rugby.
The franchise have gone through allot of changes which contribute to their poor form on and off the field.
In any team sport you have cycles with some teams preparing well when players leave and others struggle. It will be fair to say the Bulls struggled the last two years with not planning for the player exodus and not recruiting well either.
Their is some ill-feeling in the union as well with Xander Janse van Rensburg who is not a popular man at the moment and also by some account the one responsible for most of the Blue Bulls and Bulls problems.
At the end of the day we can name a 100 reason for the Bulls poor form in Super Rugby but at the end it comes down to the players and the coaches showing us on the field.
The Bulls have a international coach in Mitchell who has been working with the players since the Currie Cup last year, so no excuses anymore.
The Bulls currently have a wider training squad which they have been working with since November last year.
Part of Mitchell team will be Skills, attack and kicking Hayden Groepes, Forward Coach & Lineouts Pote Human and Forward Coach & Scrums Gary Botha.
His wider squad is:
Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Frans van Wyk, Mox Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Gerhard Steenekamp (Apprentice, injured).
Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Henning Campher, Corniel Els (injured)
Locks: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman (both Japan), Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Abongile Nonkontwana
Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp (injured), Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager (Japan), Hendre Stassen (injured), Tim Agaba (SA Sevens), Thembelani Bholi, Shaun Adendorff, Boom Prinsloo, Marco van Staden, Denzil Hill (apprentice), Eduan Lubbe (apprentice), Jaco Bezuidenhout (apprentice), Kwezi Mafu (apprentice), Ryno Pieterse (apprentice).
Scrumhalves: Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl (injured), Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Theo Maree
Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Tony Jantjies, Tinus de Beer.
Midfielders: Jesse Kriel, Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Ulrich Beyers, Stedman Gans (SA 7s), Burger Odendaal, Francois Brummer (Japan), JT Jackson (injured).
Outside backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser (apprentice).
First glance over this squad feels like a quality unit and with the injury god staying on their side the Bulls can may as well be a contender this year.
There are a few players we can a look out for this year with Warrick Gelant one of the names that makes any rugby supporter smile.
Gelant got his change finally last year with Coetzee but still has allot to grow this year to make a Springbok number 15 jumper his.
The ability and skills of the player has been brilliant last year and the one thing Mitchell and Co needs to help him improved is his defence.
As a Springbok fan we need Handre Pollard to have a big year as well. Jantjies had to carry all the weight the last couple of seasons and with the World Cup approaching we need options at ten.
Pollard have a brilliant eye for the game and with great feet and hands add that extra option at ten we so desperately need.
He is not afraid to to attack the line and have a monster boot when on song.
The final player I expect more from this year is Burger Odendaal. It seems all he needed was a quick stop at the barber and his rugby will improved.
He has been brilliant for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and not just a great play maker in the team but also lead the team as captain well.
He is a proper big and strong boy who can turn on the speed if needed. Was massively impressed by his defence and attack in the Currie Cup and expected him to take another step forward in this years Super Rugby.
Off the field the Bulls have set the tone as well with their away strip which incorporate the local Sundowns Football Club.
This for me was a stroke of genius to not just bring all supporters together but to help make rugby a sport for all people in Pretoria.
Their has been a long standing relationship between the Bulls and Sundowns and it is great to see two different sport codes in partnership for their supporters.
The Bulls have always been the team which most South Africans through all races have supported and they have just added to that with this away kit
It is not going to be easy for the Bulls with new coaches and players but they have enough to make the Loftus faithful smile again and come to the stadium.
Bulls should make the play-offs and anything can happen from there.
Lions vs Bulls
Bulls vs Sharks
Stormers vs Bulls
Bulls vs Jaguares