‘Facing Bulls at Loftus will be tough’

2014-03-26 00:00

PRETORIA — Playing at Loftus Versfeld is a challenging prospect. You could either accept the challenge or be unnerved by its atmosphere.

With these word Chiefs coach Dave Rennie yesterday stressed the fact that facing the Bulls at Loftus is as tough as it gets in the Super Rugby series.

The Chiefs, the reigning champions, take on the three-time champions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Rennie used the honey brush when he was questioned about the Bulls’ performance during recent times.

“The Bulls are always a difficult team to beat… and worse so at Loftus. Many of our players have not yet played there and the pressure is on us to play better after last weekend.”

The Chiefs slacked down against the Western Force in Perth last Saturday and this would have dented their confidence.

It, however, makes the Kiwis at the same time formidable foes.

“We were very disappointed with our performance. We did not really have the right mind-set and that cost us dearly.

“But we are getting a chance this weekend to make up for that.”

While the All Blacks made a mockery of the jet lag theory last year, Rennie still feels it is a factor to some extent.

“It plays a role and we will probably use all our players in the bench. We are very fit and looking forward to play on Saturday [kick-off is 3 pm].”

He said the Bulls’ revival has been expected after its stumbling start.

“The Bulls are a proud team, which have won the tournament three times. They started very much in the same manner as the Crusaders in our [New Zealand] group. It is a long competition and the Bulls know what it’s like to go the full distance.”

Rennie is of the opinion, unlike Sharks coach Jake White, that Springbok lock Victor Matfield is still regarded as “king of the line-outs”.

“Line-outs are an important phase of the Bulls’ make-up. They kick for the corners and their forwards can drive forward all day. With Victor there we will have to find a counter attack.”

Rennie has revealed that they are using video material of previous games that have been played at Loftus especially to prepare the younger players.

“If the stadium is filled it can be very intimidating. We fortunately play in Hamilton where the spectators also make a lot of noise. We want to take up the Loftus challenge.”

•Akona Ndungane’s inclusion as right-wing in place of Sampie Mastriet will probably be the only change in the team that beat the Sharks last weekend.

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