English-born defence coach John McFarland has returned to his post at the Blue Bulls after months of speculation about his future.
Having seemingly resigned from his post in November, McFarland was back out on the training field in Pretoria this week. His contract with the Bulls runs through to 2010.
There was speculation that the former London Irish coach might join his former Blue Bulls head coach Heyneke Meyer at Leicester Tigers. Between them, they helped the Blue Bulls win four Currie Cup titles and become the first South African side to win the Super 14 crown.
But with Meyer now back in South Africa because of family illnesses, McFarland has opted to follow suit.
Rated as “the best defensive coach in the world game” by his bosses in Pretoria, McFarland has spent eight years working with the Bulls. Last year he helped out the South African Under 20 side and was one of four applicants for the assistant coaching positions with the Springboks.
Despite missing the pre-season training camp in George, Bulls CEO Barend van Graan has made it clear that they want to keep McFarland on their books.
“The Blue Bulls Company Pty (Ltd) and John McFarland are in the process of negotiating his probable return to the company subject to a few outstanding issues,” he said in a statement this week.
“The Bulls would dearly like to have McFarland back on board and they will go out of their way to accommodate him. We value John as the best defence coach in the world and his record speaks for itself.”