fast little loans
Pretoria – The message from coach Frans Ludeke would have been clear for the Bulls when they left South Africa two days ago: “come back stronger”.
If, indeed, the Bulls do manage to be in a similar position on the combined Super Rugby log as they are now when they return after a month, then it would mean they would have defied the odds and beaten the Blues, Crusaders, Reds and Brumbies away, a feat they are yet to achieve on an overseas tour.
It is not impossible for the Bulls to win all their matches on tour but the rareness of the achievement will be given extra impetus by the fact that this is the last tour in Bulls colours for ace flyhalf Morné Steyn, centre Wynand Olivier and long-time team manager Wynie Strydom.
That alone should be enough motivation for the Bulls to do well on tour but there has been a lingering desire that sometimes has bordered on desperation for the Bulls to again lift the Super Rugby trophy.
This has to be the toughest overseas assignment the Bulls would have had to embark on as they face teams that have won the Super Rugby title at some point over the past 16 years but that won’t serve as a deterrent, instead it should serve as a source of motivation to a team that have started the competition unbeaten in their two matches.
In fact, it is this tour that Ludeke hopes his team will be a unified force strong enough to come back home and close off the deal by securing a home semi-final berth and avoiding the dreaded qualifiers which ended the Bulls’ hopes last year.
“It is the first time we are going this early for a tour. We enjoy touring and it gets us together as a unit and that is why it is great to have it early in the season. We are looking forward to the tour,” Ludeke said.
As much as the Bulls will have to defy history especially in their first two games by winning in cities and against teams they have never beaten in New Zealand, Ludeke is adamant that getting into the right frame of mind will go a long way in ensuring that this is the most successful tour in Bulls history.
“We never struggle to get down there and settle in, we’ve done it that way (going to New Zealand first) before and had successful tours so it is not a problem. It will all be about getting the guys in a good state of mind and recovered before the game,” said Ludeke.
And the Bulls should be in a good state of mind after their wins over the Stormers and Western Force. However, a successful tour will go a long way to ensure that they have one hand on the trophy come the knockout stage of the competition.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs will be boosted with the return to the side of flanker Heinrich Brüssow for their match against the Highlanders in Invercargil tomorrow.
Brüssow, who has been out of action for four months, takes the place of Boom Prinsloo on the bench. It is the only change to the 22-man squad that lost to the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend. The Cheetahs also lost their opening match, against the Sharks, and will be desperate to pick up an away win.
Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Frans Viljoen, Francois Uys, Lodewyk de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuizen, Rynhard Landman, Heinrich Brüssow, Piet van Zyl, Riaan Smith, Ryno Benjamin – The Star