Bulls wary of the Lions
THE Lions are in some ways a more dangerous beast now than when they had their coach John Mitchell, now suspended, cracking the whip.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, whose side plays the Lions in a must-win Super 15 match at Loftus on Saturday, believes the Lions are - ominously for his side - emboldened with the one-for-all spirit.
"They play with more heart. You can see that there is more unity now. It's in the way they defend and attack," Ludeke said.
"I've picked up that they are more effective with their drive and going through the middle with their pick and go," he said, referring to a method that, in all likelihood, has been engendered by interim coach Johan Ackermann.
"They still like to get the ball in space and there hasn't been a lot of structural change. We know we are in for a big tussle."
His team have to beat the Lions and will be well advised to get a bonus point along the way if they want to secure a spot in next week's play-offs.
The Bulls have lost four of their last five games and Ludeke emphasised the importance of focusing on the immediate obstacle.
"We are one of the teams who are in a do-or-die situation. You can't get too worried about it. We just have to make sure we do what we have to do on Saturday," he said.
That approach has done the trick for the Sharks, who have resurrected their campaign with seven wins from eight starts on South African soil since their return from tour.
That last win happened to come against the Bulls, who have been forced into a change in the second row where Wilhelm Steenkamp comes in for the injured Flip van der Merwe.
Deon Stegmann takes Steenkamp's place on the bench after recovering from a broken arm.
Although his pack was manhandled at times in Durban last week, and his hand slightly forced by the injury to Van der Merwe, Ludeke - who doesn't have a recognised lock on the bench - believes his pack will require greater mobility against the Lions.
"We have some cover for lock among the loosies. We have some guys who can jump and scrum in that position if required. We're expecting a game where there will be quite a bit of movement."