Bulls captain: There is desperation ‘but in a good way’

2014-04-16 12:42

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Bulls Super Rugby coach Frans Ludeke is confident that his charges will bounce back against the Waratahs, whom they meet on Saturday morning (11.40am SA time) in Sydney.

Whether this confidence borders on cockiness remains to be seen, but Ludeke has named an unchanged 15 for Saturday’s clash against Australia’s perennial under-achievers, who lost 28-16 to the Western Force last week.

Captain Flip van der Merwe has also been ruled fit to play after suffering a biceps injury last week.

The breakdown was a big worry against the Highlanders last week – to which the Bulls lost 27-20 – and with Michael Hooper looming in the Waratahs’ ranks, Ludeke said improvement will be demanded from his makeshift loose trio.

“You do need a bit of variety in the loose trio and I think that the personnel we have actually provide that. There’s a special function that number eights do in terms of attack and defence and I think Grant [Hattingh] has done well there,” Ludeke said.

“We are still looking to see how much of an effect Jono Ross can have on the breakdown, even though his work rate has improved. He is chasing the small detail, but in time his breakdown work will improve.”

The Bulls left South Africa in middling form after a 34-all draw against the Chiefs three weeks ago. With no win from two matches on tour, Ludeke said the Waratahs will be a tough proposition, but not unbeatable, even though the home team is smarting from a surprise defeat.

“We got close against the Highlanders and had opportunities to seal the game. The Waratahs are an excellent unit, but we have identified a few areas in which we can expose them, especially in terms of getting behind the gain line,” Ludeke said.

The Waratahs have been a team caught in a few storms, and coach Michael Cheika has been hauled before a Sanzar disciplinary committee for an altercation with a SuperSport camera person and superstar Israel Folau caught in a franchise-versus-country tug of war.

Van der Merwe said that could be the inspiration they need for a good performance.

“We lost as well last week, so we all want a backlash. We have to win on Saturday and the process is set up for us to have a big win on tour.

“There is desperation, but in a good way. We are patient and everything is in place. We have played some good rugby but have not been able to see it through.”

» Teams

Waratahs: TBA

Bulls:

15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Morné Mellett, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 William Small-Smith

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