Jesse Kriel says the Bulls are readying themselves for a battle royale when they go up against the Stormers.
The Bulls knows full well they cannot afford any slip-ups in a brutal Super Rugby campaign that starts with the highly-anticipated north-south derby against the Stormers at Loftus on Saturday.

If the opener against one for their arch-rivals wasn’t enough, the Bulls have to travel to Argentina next week to face the Jaguares.

Springbok centre Jesse Kriel said the team were readying themselves for a battle royale when they go up against the Stormers.

The Capetonians will go into the match boasting seven victories over the Bulls in their last nine encounters, although the Pretoria-based team won the last game 33-23 at Loftus .

“This week we have the Stormers and then (we’re) travelling to Argentina, we definitely need a good start, we know how momentum can build for a team and the confidence it gives guys,” Kriel said.

“So a good start will be so, so important but it is also important for us to not focus on the result.”

While the Stormers had the upper hand in their pre-season match two weeks ago in Cape Town, Kriel believed the Bulls have made improvements since the 32-28 loss.

The Bulls and Sharks played to a rare 7-all draw in Ballito, where Kriel believe his team missed a few chances to clinch the game.

“The ball was like a bar of soap and it was extremely hot but no excuses, obviously a low-scoring game and I think both sides defended really well,” Kriel said.

“There were a few opportunities we also missed and they also missed.

“We were definitely happier with our performance on Saturday than we were last week so we progressively got better every week and that is all we want as a team.”

Kriel said he was happy with his performance over the weekend where he managed to shake off some of the pre-season rust.

“You can run as much as you want, and you can run on a treadmill for three months but it doesn’t compare (to) that game fitness, that tackling, getting up and that conditioning they talk about in rugby,” Kriel said.

“The only place you can get that is out there on the field playing rugby, which I think is very important.”

He said the Bulls have emphasised the importance of eliminating silly mistakes and avoiding costly lapses in concentration to avoid a repeat of their loss to the Stormers in the warm-up match.

“We spoke about not making those stupid mistakes, it was obviously just lapses of concentration,” Kriel said.

“We spoke about just being focused and living in the moment, and not switching off because the Stormers obviously have world-class players.”