Same herd of Bulls to play the Sharks
EMBOLDENED by their humbling of the Cheetahs, the Bulls yesterday named the same side to play the Sharks in Durban on Friday.
Coach Frans Ludeke gave the starting XV an unambiguous thumbs-up with good reason given the way the Cheetahs took liberties once the Bulls substitutes came on in the final 20 minutes at the weekend.
Captain Pierre Spies, who had presided over a fine team effort in the first hour, watched helplessly as the supposed fresh legs had a numbing effect. He knows the Bulls cannot suffer final-quarter blues against the Sharks.
"To beat the Sharks in Durban you not only need 80 minutes of effort, but a special 80 minutes at that," said Spies. "There are numerous game breakers in their side. We have been able to achieve important results there in the past though and the feeling in the camp is that we can do it again."
In fact, the Bulls have won their last three Super rugby matches at King's Park. Ludeke didn't have to scratch his head in the team selection meeting.
"Everyone is fit and ready to go. They showed against the Cheetahs that they are up to the task and are on form. Momentum is a very important factor at this stage of the competition and it is something we have now," Ludeke said.
The Bulls are still eyeing top spot in the South African conference, but they will have to rely on the Cheetahs or the Rebels to perform a giant-killing act on the Stormers to facilitate this.
Frans Steyn's Sharks reunion, after three years at French club Racing Metro, will be an unsentimental one, writes Sbu Mjikeliso.
He will focus squarely on helping his team avoid a defeat by the Bulls that would end their chances of reaching the Super 15 play-offs.
Steyn's return comes as the Sharks have influential players injured. Pat Lambie (ankle) and Willem Alberts (knee) suffered in the bruising three-test series against England and are unavailable for Friday's game.
To add to coach John Plumtree's woes, lock Steven Sykes (knee) and promising SA under-20 centre Paul Jordaan (hamstring) are in doubt.
Plumtree said he hoped that the new midfield of Steyn, at inside centre, and Tim Whitehead, on the outside, would combine instantly.