Bulls gear up for Chiefs challenge

2014-03-26 16:06

Defending Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, are in town and Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is well aware of the challenge they pose.

The Bulls have not lost to the New Zealand outfit in Pretoria since 2001, but Ludeke is not drawn to the history of the Bulls success.

The Chiefs are the best Super Rugby unit in New Zealand and Ludeke said they could not be underestimated.

It is the Bulls’ last home fixture before the customary four-match Australasian tour where a win will be much needed.

“I know that we like to take our season one game at a time, but it would be nice to finish the first stretch of our home season on a high,” Ludeke said.

“I know how important is the belief of leaving South African shores with a win, but the priority is playing well this weekend and [to] do what we need to do to get a result.”

There is one change from the team that outmuscled the Sharks so impressively on Saturday.

Experienced winger Akona Ndungane comes back from compassionate leave and slots back to his favoured right-wing position, meaning that Sampie Mastriet falls out of the match 23 altogether.

With accurate kicking set to be the decider between the two evenly matched teams, Ludeke said

Ndungane’s return could not have come at a better time.

“An accurate kicking game is absolutely vital against the Chiefs and it is important for us. Their ball retention is superb and they are not a side who give the ball away very easily,” Ludeke said.

“Having Akona back is about more than just the kicking game, it is about contesting the ball in the air and his high work rate.”

Lock Victor Matfield finds himself captaining the Bulls for the second time running after Flip van der Merwe’s late withdrawal last week due to a hamstring strain.

With the Chiefs facing the Bulls after a shock 18-15 loss to the Force in Perth last week, Matfield said the Chiefs could come out firing.

“I don’t think the Force did us any favours by beating the Chiefs last week. The Force were at their best but it is a different game now and we want to be at the top,” Matfield said.

Bulls team:

15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling

Subsitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morné Mellett

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