Pretoria – Bulls coach Nollis Marais believes that “accuracy” will be crucial in his side’s efforts to derail the unbeaten Crusaders in their Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Bulls endured a woeful start to the 2017 tournament, losing five of their first six fixtures.
But wins against the Jaguares and the Cheetahs at home in their last two fixtures have calmed the storm somewhat and eased the pressure on Marais.
Marais has been vocal this season on his intention to turn the Bulls into a side that plays ball-in-hand rugby.
But the wins over the Jaguares and Cheetahs resembled more the Bulls side of old that relied on a strong defence and an ability to grind out wins.
The word from the Bulls camp on Wednesday was that an ‘attack at all costs’ mentality would be a bad idea.
“You can’t run it from everywhere. You have to be tactically very good against them,” Marais said of the Crusaders.
“We’ve got certain plans in place that we think tactically will suit us. If you run the ball from anywhere and you’re not accurate, and you lose the ball in your own 22, they will punish you very quickly. We know exactly what we want to do.”
Marais knows that the Bulls will have to put in a serious performance if they are to do what no other side has done this season and emerge with a victory against the seven-time Super Rugby champions.
“If you want to beat them, you’ll have to be up for it,” he said.
“It helps with motivation if you play against the No 1 side. We’ve got a few guys who have never played New Zealand sides before and if we want to beat them on Saturday we will have to be at our best.”
Skipper Adriaan Strauss said the mood in the Bulls camp ahead of this match was special.
“I feel this is the most excited the team has been this whole season,” he said.
“We really feel that it’s a big game and we know we’re up against a team that’s unbeaten. We respect them as a team and a franchise, but we’re looking forward to it.
“They’ve always got great individuals but also the reputation … it’s one of the biggest teams or the biggest to play against so that makes it massive. It gives the guys a chance to measure themselves against the best.”
The match kicks off at 17:15.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Jan Serfontein