PRETORIA – It might seem a mountain too high to climb for the beleaguered Bulls when they face the unbeaten Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday but captain Adriaan Strauss believes that his side have a golden opportunity to make a statement.
And what a statement it would be if the Bulls can manage to pull off the biggest upset of the season.
It would be the biggest upset considering where the Bulls stand after a horrid start to the season with only one win out of six matches while the Crusaders have flexed their muscles from the onset and are on a nine match winning streak.
However, the Bulls have shown signs of recovery and while their wins against the Jaguares and Cheetahs were not convincing, it went a long way in easing the pressure they were under after losing to the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
With undoubtedly their biggest game of the season staring them in the eyes, Strauss has made a rallying call to his team to finally come good and play to their full potential.
“We see it as an opportunity to play the way we want to. We’ve had moments here and there but we haven’t put together a great performance for 80 minutes,” Strauss said.
“So this is an opportunity to go out and do that and a great opportunity because we are going to be challenged by a quality team. This is an opportunity for us to play the way we want to, under pressure by a great side and we don’t get those opportunities often so it is good.”
The Bulls have indeed played in patches this season which has largely led to their demise and while they may have shown glimpses of how good a team they can be, it has not been enough to turn the results in their favour.
If the Bulls don’t put up the 80 minute of perfection that Strauss so desperately seeks then they will also find themselves on the end of an embarrassing score as has been the case with the Cheetahs and Stormers recently.
Not only do the Crusaders come with the pedigree of being the most successful team in the competition’s history but they come to the capital wanting to overturn a bad history at Loftus where they last won in 2008.
Even with the odds heavily stacked against the Bulls, there is a strong belief within the men in blue that they can stand and compete against the wrecking ball that is the Crusaders currently.
“They’ve always got great individuals but also the reputation of the Crusaders. They are the most successful team in the history of the competition and through all the changes that have happened,” said Strauss.
“They are the biggest team to play against and that makes it massive, gives guys the opportunity to prove themselves against the best in the competition and it is a great challenge for the youngsters to play against New Zealand teams. 2015 went our way here and it is always tough against them here but it is moments like these that we play for.”
Bulls team: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Jacques Potgieter, Nick de Jager, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka, Jacobie Adriaanse, RG Snyman, Jannes Kirsten, Rudy Paige, Francois Brummer, Jan Serfontein.