- The Bulls are favourites to win the Currie Cup final against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
- Should they win, it will be their 24th title, but first since 2009.
- The men from Pretoria have the players and the coach to do the job.
With 23 titles, it would be easy to say the Bulls are perennial Currie Cup contenders. The past 11 and a bit years paint a different story.
The Bulls have underperformed in the domestic tournament for various reasons and when they've got to the play-offs, they’ve choked.
Under Jake White, they have been a different breed of cattle, one the Sharks they cannot afford to underestimate when the sides meet in Saturday's Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls have had a lot going for them this season and go into the game as favourites. This is why they should annex their 24th title:
Morne Steyn's redemption
Morne Steyn has won the Currie Cup before, but the Sharks have been the source of pain for him in subsequent play-off games. There's no Pat Lambie to bother him, even though Curwin Bosch could be problem.
Steyn's a bona fide match-winner and if the Bulls pack provides the platform that's allowed him to dominate teams, Steyn may be able to add to his Currie Cup winner's medal collection. After all, he last added to his bunch in 2009 and it's been pain for him and the Bulls ever since.
Duane Vermeulen's presence
Duane Vermeulen has won two Currie Cups (2007 and 2012) with the Cheetahs and Western Province. In the 2007 final, he announced himself as a youngster that needed to be taken seriously. In the 2012 final, having already made his belated Springbok debut, he rubber-stamped his authority as SA's best No 8. Nearly nine years on and that hasn't changed as Vermeulen has some players chasing after him, but none equal at the moment. The Sharks though have some young loose-forwards who'll want to ask him some tough questions, but if he gets going, it'll be a long afternoon for the Sharks.
Marco van Staden's effervescence
Marco van Staden isn't a find, but an important player for the Bulls. He plays each game like his last and it has shown. He's a disruptive presence at breakdown time and is the link between the forwards and the backs. He is their everyman. He is everywhere and the Sharks know him very well. If he's not shut down, the Sharks are going to have problems.
Jake White's big match mentality
Jake White is a rugby World Cup winning coach. He's also the only South African coach to have managed a South African Super Rugby team that won in Christchurch. You won't get a better big game coach than him. The Currie Cup is missing from his collection and he's best placed to get that winner's medal. You can't disagree with his pedigree.
Lack of baggage
Lizo Gqoboka, who started at loosehead prop in the 2016 final loss to the Cheetahs, is the only returnee from that game. From the 2018 semi-final the Bulls lost against Western Province, Van Staden, Trevor Nyakane, Ivan van Zyl, Ruan Nortje and Embrose Papier are survivors. They are older, wiser and better-coached and it has showed this season. It was a tricky semi-final that they lost, but the nucleus of the Bulls has changed and so has their mentality. This is a different Bulls team with everything to prove.
15 David Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes (from): 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marnus Potgieter, 24 Nizaam Carr, 25 Gerhard Steenekamp, 26 Keagan Johannes, 27 Jade Stighling
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche.
Substitutes: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Manie Libbok