By Jacques van der Westhuyzen
The Bulls are famous for their big, powerful forwards. Week after week they have laid the platform for the team's resurgence at Loftus, winning four matches on the trot and giving themselves a chance at making the semifinals of the Super 12.
It's a little surprising then that it's been the backs, and in particular the wings, who've grabbed the headlines in recent weeks. The men from Pretoria, after all, are more known for their bulldozing, aggressive battles up front than for sweeping runs from all parts.
How refreshing it's been this season that the likes of Bryan Habana and Akona Ndungane have been the men to grab the attention.
Habana's sheer pace and instinct have catapulted him to the top of the list of South Africa's wingers, but while a lot was expected of the Springbok flier at the start of the year, no one quite knew what Ndungane was capable of.
He's grabbed his chance in his first season of Super 12 rugby, and has quickly become one of Loftus' favourite adopted sons.
He and Habana are in a mini war to see who finishes as the Bulls' top try-scorer this season.
"There's a little rivalry going on between us," admitted Ndungane this week.
"It's gone really well for me up to now, scoring six tries. Bryan's got one more than me, but there are still two games to be played, maybe more, and the way we're going I'm sure there are more tries in us."
The 24-year-old would have come face to face with his twin brother in the crucial match against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday had Odwa, who played for the Bulls in 2004, not been ruled out because of injury.
Had the twins opposed one another it would have been a Super 12 first. It's not something Akona has given too much thought to this week as he and his "best friend" have faced each other on three previous occasions.
"We only started playing rugby in high school in East London in 1995. My father was a wing and we often went to watch him. Both of us enjoyed the game and wanted to follow in his footsteps. We took to it very quickly and only later actually came up against one another, when I was playing for EP and Odwa for Border."
Odwa, mainly because of injury, has had little chance to impress at the Sharks this season, but Akona has made the most of the opportunity that's come his way.
Last year when Odwa was playing for the Bulls, Akona was representing his country on the world Sevens circuit. He says he's never been jealous that Odwa was the first of the twins to play Super 12 rugby.
"I'd received national colours in the SA Sevens team so we were both moving up. I was happy for Odwa, but I was also proud of what I'd achieved at that stage.
"However, when the Sharks offered Odwa a deal after 2004's Currie Cup I was approached by the Bulls for this year's Super 12."
"I was playing for Border and jumped at the chance. Odwa had told me about the great rugby culture at Loftus and he said I would really enjoy it. So far it's been the best rugby decision I've made."
The rest is history, but Akona's presence at Loftus since the end of 2004 left many a teammate confused about who exactly it was with the dread-locked hair out on the wing.
"Some of the Bulls guys thought Odwa was still playing on the wing. Even now many people aren't quite sure who's who. I don't have a nickname here, but for some reason my team-mates call me Odwa," says Akona.
The speedy winger has scored some scintillating tries this year, but who will forget the touchdown against the Waratahs in Sydney just over a month ago?
Stopped short of the line with big Nathan Grey on his back, Akona, with ball stuck to his hand, reached out and planted the ball over the tryline. It was a remarkable score and not surprisingly Akona's highlight of the Super 12 thus far.
"I knew I was just short of the line, but I also knew I still had control of the ball and as wingers do, I looked to see where the line was and with everything I had I reached out. It felt really good scoring it."
While not wanting to discuss the whole Super 14 debacle which has left the region where he hails from, the Eastern Cape, in the cold Akona admits that players in that part of the country will struggle to make a name for themselves if they don't play at a higher level.
"The Bulls want me to stay on for the Currie Cup and while I know it's important to play for a big team everything depends on the Bulldogs, where I'm currently contracted. I'll see what happens later on, but I must say playing in front of a crowd like the one at Loftus is an awesome experience.
"To be the best you've got to be able to measure yourself against the best and at a smaller union, that's impossible."
And how does he feel about his chance of making Jake White's Springbok squad?
"Ensuring that the Bulls win is all that matters right now. Getting into the Bok side will be a bonus. But more importantly, I'm playing the game I love... I've never been a suit and tie kind of guy, so this is my dream job and I'm loving it."
Player: "Tana Umaga. It was really strange coming up against him. I'd always looked up to him and thought just how great he was. It was nice, in a funny kind of way."
Music: "R&B, reggae and House music."
Girlfriend: "No. I'm single and haven't had much luck lately. Maybe I'm being confused with Odwa."
Food: "I'm not fussy, but I'd probably go for steak."
Car: "BMW, the model doesn't matter."
Holiday destination: "I've never actually been there, but I've driven through Knysna and that looks like a nice place for a holiday."
Movies: "I really enjoyed Denzel Washington in John Q."
Book: "I'm not big on reading, but I do enjoy inspirational material."
Actor: "Denzel Washington and Will Smith."
Hair-dresser: "My hair's been like this for three years and at the moment a lady in Sunnyside is taking care of it."