PRETORIA - The Hurricanes seem to be more concerned about catching the last bit of sunshine on the Highveld than facing the wounded Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
All Blacks and Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett posted a picture on Twitter of himself lying on the side of the pool at their Joburg hotel and all that seemed to matter at the time was watching the beautiful sunset.
Barrett and his teammates’ relaxed demeanour is not born out of disrespect for their opponents on the weekend but by how watered down a trip to Loftus has become of late.
The sun is surely setting on the Bulls as they move from one disaster to another with every passing game and there is another disaster looming.
The Hurricanes’ laid-back attitude resembles the calm before the storm and, while the Bulls may feel they are in the eye of the storm after three consecutive defeats, they could find themselves in more turmoil if the men from the New Zealand capital turn on the swirling winds like they did in their 61-17 win over the Cheetahs last weekend.
For the Bulls not to suffer the same fate as the Cheetahs and avoid another embarrassing defeat at home after the 62-24 drubbing at the hands of the Crusaders two weeks ago, coach Nollis Marais will need to make some calculated team selections in order to limit the damage. That rotation policy at loosehead prop between Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman will have to come to an end with Gqoboka clearly the better of the two as evidenced by his selection to the Springbok team this week.
A chance needs to be given to former Kings hooker Edgar Marutlulle who had to watch from the sidelines as the out-of-sorts Adriaan Strauss and Jaco Visagie are given the nod even though they have done little to justify their continued starting berths.
With RG Snyman still serving his four-match ban, Marais will have to persist with the second row combination of Jason Jenkins and Lood de Jager while last week’s loose trio of Ruan Steenkamp, Jannes Kirsten and eighthman Hanro Liebenberg need more time together to grow.
Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige will have yet another opportunity to prove himself against All Black scrumhalf TJ Perenara while Marais will have to deploy the running mindset of flyhalf Tony Jantjies if the Bulls are to turn this match into a spectacle.
They will be hoping for the return from injury of Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo to match the physicality of the Hurricanes' back-three while Marais will crack his skull again thinking as to who should start at fullback between Jesse Kriel and Warrick Gelant.
Marais finds himself in a difficult situation where he has to juggle the form of players, viable combinations and the way he wants the team to play just to minimise the damage inflicted on his team on a weekly basis.
However, Marais and the Bulls are in survival mode and form might just be the only reward to a collective bunch of players who have not only failed themselves but the once mighty Bulls franchise as well.
The sun is surely setting on the Bulls and the Hurricanes will want to get their piece of it.