PRETORIA – There can be no doubt that the Bulls are under severe pressure after losing three of their four games so far this season and they will be desperately looking for a season turning win against the Chiefs on Saturday.
Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel admits that the ills of their ways have been self induced and that they will need to urgently fix them if they are to overcome the unbeaten Chiefs and get the win that can turn their season around.
“We know that the pressure is on and we go out every week to win every game and not to lose. We our doing our best to fix what is wrong every week so that we can perform and win,” said Ismaiel from New Zealand.
“It went well in the preseason but as we know that things are not the same when it comes to the actual competition and teams really come at us. We have made some small mistakes that have allowed teams to get the better of us. It is all things we can fix and we are working hard at doing so hopefully things will work out for us this weekend and turn things in our favour and our season.”
As low as the Bulls may find themselves after their 38-14 hiding at the hands of the Blues last weekend, they might take some solace from the fact that they have already played against the Chiefs this year during their preseason matches in Brisbane and actually beat them.
However, their match in Brisbane was without the many errors that have cost them dearly so far this season and Ismaiel believes that the Chiefs are also a different outfit as is evident in their results.
“Obviously it was a preseason game and they are a better team this time around. They are the best team in the competition and they’ve played well so it will be a totally different challenge so we’ll have to wait and see what Saturday brings us,” Ismaiel said.
A former South African junior champion in the 400m event, Ismaiel harbours strong ambitions of becoming a Springbok this year after featuring for the SA ‘A’ side last year against the England Saxons but, concedes that his team’s misfortunes are not tipping the scales in his favour to attaining higher honours.
Ismaiel along with Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo have impressed since becoming permanent features in the Bulls backline last year and with size, speed and strong aerial skills, Ismaiel remains in the running to become a Springbok as soon as the June incoming series against France.
“I’ve worked hard obviously before the season has started as well. I just look to improve my game wherever I can and contribute to the team whether it is with the ball or off the ball. Whatever I can bring to the team is what I look to do I go out there and give my best.”
Ismaiel is realistic though and believes that his personal form can only get better when the Bulls play well and that is his immediate concern at the moment.
“Every rugby player has an ambition to play for the Springboks, it’s a huge dream of mine and I work for it every day. I take it one day at a time and if the team does well then everyone does well. I don’t want to look too far ahead so I set myself weekly goals and hopefully I will get an opportunity.”
The encounter against the Chiefs might not be do-or-die for the Bulls just yet, but it surely will have a massive influence on how things pan out for the Loftus Versfeld based outfit.
In the uncertainty of what will become of Saturday, Ismaiel remains hopeful that the pressure on the Bulls could just ignite them into action and with a backline as dangerous as the best New Zealand rugby has in the competition, Ismaiel is excited at the possibility of things coming together for his team.
“I am really excited for that moment like we know they are all exciting players and it is good to have Jan Serfontein back again. As soon as everything clicks and we get the ball, I’m sure things will go well,” Ismaiel said.