- While admitting that Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit's injury-enforced absences are "massive", Bulls mentor Jake White has questioned whether they are two of the best to don the franchise jersey.
- The former Bok coach's remark added some spice to the build-up to Saturday's Super Rugby Unlocked meeting between his troops and the Stormers at Loftus.
- He's also pondering whether the Capetonians' expected 6-2 split on the bench might mean his pack has landed a psychological blow before kick-off.
Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby, has admitted that the respective absences of Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit are "massive" ahead of the Stormers' Super Rugby Unlocked meeting with his charges at Loftus on Saturday.
However, he also made an eye-catching remark over whether the Springbok duo truly can be considered two of the best players ever to don the franchise's jersey.
"Obviously Siya and Pieter-Steph are really good players. Not the best players that the Stormers have ever coached but definitely two of the best players they currently have down there in the Cape," White said on Thursday.
His remark was part of a seemingly broader objective to attempt to plant a few seeds of doubt among the Capetonians, who haven't yet hit their straps in the campaign to date.
Indeed, the Bulls go into the clash with confidence following an excellent 41-14 victory over the Sharks at home last week, a performance illuminated by a superb showing from the pack.
15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)
Substitutes (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Ben-Jason Dixon, 23 Godlen Masimla, 24 Tim Swiel, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds
That has prompted White to question whether his opponents are overtly wary of the threat posed by his forwards after John Dobson, his Stormers counterpart, included three locks among his pool of substitutes, leading to speculation that the visitors might go for an eventual six-two split on the bench.
"When I look at their bench, it seems they're going that way," said White.
"I've been coaching a long time and I can't remember the last time that the Stormers had to bring six forward replacements against the Bulls pack.
"Obviously we're doing something right up here."
In keeping with a theme of not taking a step back against an opponent that he admits "is always a tough game against a quality team", White countered Dobson waxing lyrical over the returning Steven Kitshoff by giving his own glowing if far more subtle endorsement of Trevor Nyakane.
The Springbok tighthead will front up directly against his national team-mate in the scrums.
"He had a nice outing last week, coming off the bench and adding lots of value. I believe it will be a good game for him against Kitsie," said White.
"(Stormers coach) John Dobson said earlier this week that he has the best player he's ever coached (in Kitshoff) coming back for the match, so I felt it only fair to put Trevor up against him."
Kick-off at Loftus is at 19:00.