Pretoria – The Blue Bulls have made two changes for their second-round Currie Cup encounter against Western Province at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
The side was under severe pressure following a 41-31 demolition at the hands of the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted their performance against the Lions was not good enough and believed his charges would be able to bounce back against Province.
“We definitely believe we are on the right track. We need to look at ways to attack with more width and be smart within that to still keep the ball,” Ludeke said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“We still believe we've got great continuity in the players to perform and to do well in the Currie Cup and to be there when it matters at the end.
“That was a great test and a great contest for us. We came second but we took a lot from that and we'll definitely be stronger this weekend playing against Province.”
There were reports of emergency team meetings on Sunday and of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union board's growing impatience with the side's non-performance.
The Light Blues had been criticised for playing what pundits believed to be an outdated and conservative style while team selection did not play to the side's strengths.
Ludeke said although the Bulls had been criticised for persisting with players who were perceived as non-performers, there was a culture of accountability.
“A tough environment is where there is accountability and honest feedback. If things don't go right there are consequences,” he said.
“The players and management are in on that and it's the only thing you can do for a player. If you want to be fair and a player doesn't play well, he needs to know it.
“If they can't perform, our coaching ability also needs to be questioned, so we are all in this together.”
Meanwhile, the coach welcomed the return of towering loose forward Jacques du Plessis, who had fully recovered from a jaw fracture.
Du Plessis would earn a starting berth at the side of the scrum in place of Jono Ross, who moved to the back of the scrum at the cost of Jacques Engelbrecht.
In the only other change to the staring XV, Marcel van der Merwe replaced the injured Dean Greyling, who faced a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday for alleged trampling.
“We missed his presence. During the Super Rugby he was one of the standout players as a ball carrier, defender and his mobility brings a presence,” Ludeke said.
The team had paid special attention to the scrums this week, Ludeke said, after the Lions had exposed them in this facet of play.
“We had a good scrum in Super Rugby and over the weekend we just weren't accurate enough. We had a look at it and technically we let ourselves down and suddenly we look like an average scrum,” he said.
“We've got a good plan and we've put the Lions behind us. We weren't good enough with our scrum performance and that is where it started.”
Blue Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Burger Odendaal, Sampie Mastriet, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Piet van Zyl, Jono Ross, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann (captain), Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Hencus Van Wyk, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Engelbrecht, Rudy Paige, Tony Jantjies, Jesse Kriel. – Sapa