at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has remained loyal to the team that narrowly lost to the Highlanders last week and, with no change to the starting line-up for their encounter against the Waratahs on Saturday in Sydney, they will be hoping that consistency in team selection will yield a better result.
Ludeke opted not to select veteran wing Akona Ndungane, who last week was withdrawn at the eleventh hour because of a hamstring strain, and also refrained from making a change at hooker with the ineffective Callie Visagie retained ahead of Bongi Mbonambi.
The only change that the Bulls have made is on the bench where scrumhalf Rudy Paige makes his first appearance on their team sheet this year.
”The important thing is to give Akona another week to work on that hamstring and also so we can manage him, but he will definitely be back in the team next week,” said Ludeke yesterday.
“It’s also a great opportunity for Piet van Zyl to start again at scrumhalf. He did well last week and his combination with Hougie (Francois Hougaard) and Bjorn (Basson) worked well,” Ludeke added.
Besides hoping that the team will function more effectively this week than they did against the Highlanders, the Bulls will be further encouraged by their long unbeaten run against the Waratahs.
The Waratahs have not beaten the Bulls in their last eight encounters in a losing streak that started in 2006.
Even though the Bulls are coming off two consecutive losses in New Zealand, captain Flip van der Merwe believes that his team are due a win on their four-match tour and the Waratahs are ripe for the taking
Not that Van der Merwe is expecting the Waratahs to roll over and hand them victory but the hefty second rower says his team are ready to put together a performance worthy of the hard toil they have put in on the training field.
The Waratahs have issues of their own to address after being beaten by the Western Force last week and with the return of their star fullback Israel Folau, there will certainly be fireworks on display with both sides seeking redemption.
“Every team, when they lose, they will try come back and play a better game. Just like the Waratahs we also lost last week and there will be a backlash from us as well. We all want to go out and win, we have to win on Saturday. I think everything is set up and the process is ready for us to have a big win on tour,” Van der Merwe said.
Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Piet van Zyl, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe (capt), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe, Morné Mellett, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Rudy Paige, Handré Pollard, William Small-Smith. - The Star