Bulls coach not waiting on JP Nel’s appeal

2009-05-10 00:00

CENTRE JP Nel yesterday appealed against the four-week suspension he received after being cited for a dangerous tackle on Sharks fullback Stefan Terblanche, but he has been omitted from the Bulls team for the semi-final anyway.

The appeal will be heard today via teleconference by a Sanzar committee.

Frans Ludeke is not holding his breath. The Bulls coach yesterday announced his team for the semi-final against the Crusaders and included Springbok centre Wynand Olivier, who left the field during Saturday’s game against the Sharks with a hip injury, and did not even leave a place for Nel on the bench.

Ludeke and team doctor Org Strauss are satisfied with Olivier’s recovery and he will partner Jaco Pretorius in midfield.

The rest of the team was left unchanged, but Gerhard van den Heever comes in for Nel on the bench.

Ludeke said at Loftus yesterday that the Bulls will treat the semi-final like any other match.

“We will have a few short, sharp sessions during the week and all our focus is on winning the match. We need to put the Crusaders under pressure and grind out the result.”

Captain Victor Matfield said the players are excited about the contest.

“When we arrived at Loftus on Monday morning, we saw all the people who have been camping at the stadium since Saturday night. There is a real buzz.”

Meanwhile, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder is confident All Black lock Brad Thorn, suffering from a hamstring strain, will be ready for the semi-final and he will leave selection as late as possible to allow his inclusion.

Blackadder said his team have recovered well from the long trip to Johannesburg where they are based ahead of the semi-final. He is also confident prop Ben Franks will be ready.

Sharks coach John Plumtree said that the “outstanding Bulls team” could win the title again if they play “positive” rugby.

“The Bulls have world-class players in key areas and it is very difficult for visiting teams to win at Loftus. But they will have to beat two New Zealand teams to win the title and they must be positive in their rugby.”

Plumtree said the New Zealanders will attack the Bulls “because that’s what Kiwi teams do” and the Bulls could not rely on the Loftus crowd and a territorial game to take them home.

Matfield agreed that being simply being at home at Loftus would not guarantee a win. “We are up against the toughest team in the competition, a team with real character who know how to win semi-finals and finals. We will have to go out and win the game.”

* There has been a change to the date of Chiefs-Hurricanes game in Hamilton, which will now be played on Friday and not Saturday at 9.35 am (SA time). The Bulls-Crusaders semi-final is on Saturday at 3 pm.

Bulls team: 15 Zane Kirchner; 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier,11 Bryan Habana; 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez; 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5

Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

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