Johannesburg - Former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss has warned his team-mates that their three consecutive victories mean little as they prepare to face the Highlanders in their Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Kick-off is scheduled for 17:15.
The Bulls are enjoying a resurgence under coach John Mitchell and none more so than Strauss, who is evergreen and scoring tries while his team look to up their attack, the supersport.com website reports.
But while they have won two local derbies against the Stormers and Sharks respectively to move them up to second place in the South African log, the real test lies against the rampant New Zealand franchises, who are more competitive than the rest and look in awesome form as well.
The Bulls won their only home game against a New Zealand franchise - their opener against the Hurricanes - and came close against the Chiefs. But they believe they are growing as a team and are eager to accept the challenge that the Highlanders will bring this weekend to Loftus.
Strauss however, cautioned against expectations, and said it would take guts and hard work once again to take that next step forward as a franchise.
“We can never get ahead of ourselves. We haven’t achieved anything. We’ve won a couple of games and we will use that confidence but like I said, we’re more process driven and long-term driven that we will get stuck in a moment. We are very happy for the wins and the win this weekend but it is in the past now and we’ve already started working hard for the next one,” Strauss said.
While their victory over the Melbourne Rebels this past weekend was a frustrating game with the Australian side looking to slow play down on every occasion, the Bulls hooker believes it was an important mental hurdle for the side to go through to ensure they grow as a side. A young squad like the Bulls needs to understand how to win in every situation and the Rebels game provided them with a different, if what frustrating challenge.
“It is a bit of a mental thing but I think it is important as a group and as a squad, because we are learning, to go through those frustrating games where everything doesn’t go your way, because you will need that in this competition when things get tough. We were frustrated on the field but I think the guys really handled it well, and fought through that, and learnt a couple of lessons,” Strauss added.
He stressed that the challenge this week will be different with the soft moments from both sides likely to decide the game.
“The Highlanders don’t go away ever, they play for the full 80, 90 minutes. So we expect a battle for longer than the 80 minutes and mentally we need to prepare well, but we also need to be smart physically, have a good week’s preparation, rest and be ready for the weekend as well.”
And the Bulls have been focusing on preparation of late. A good week’s preparation is key under Mitchell for a good performance on the weekend.
The Highlanders loom large for the Bulls this weekend but they know what to expect.
And they are chomping at the bit to get out on the field.