Pretpria – As the battle for places in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs heats up, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admits winning with a full complement of bonus points will become increasingly important.
The form of the recent three-time champions suggests they have turned their campaign around following a disappointing tour of Australasia, with victories over the Cheetahs and the Southern Kings in the last two weeks.
“Obviously every point you can get is vital, but you have to do the hard yards first and it is all about getting control in a game,” Ludeke said after naming his team on Wednesday for this weekend's clash against the Waratahs at Loftus Versfeld.
“When you get control and you take control of what you do, that is when the bonus point comes into play.
“There are no easy games and the competition showed it this season. It is going to be a close end to the league phase for teams to make it.
“You can't run away from it because at the end of the day the bonus points will definitely tell. It is going to be close.”
While the Bulls are leading the SA conference, in third place overall, only one point separates them from the Cheetahs and the Sharks, who are second and third respectively.
“We've worked hard to get that momentum going,” Ludeke said.
“It is great leadership by Pierre (Spies) and the guys on the field and we've had a few sessions talking the details through, while it is also about backing the system.
“We've made small changes and we've been working hard in training.
“It is always about those small adjustments, things that will give you momentum. We got it last week and we got it against the Cheetahs.”
The Bulls mentor made four changes to the starting XV that will face the Waratahs on Saturday.
Loosehead prop Dean Greyling will make his first start of the season after recovering from a stress fracture in his foot. The burly prop replaces Morne Mellett, who started in all eight matches thus far in the campaign.
The changes to the side were brought on by the return of previously injured players, with Bjorn Basson replacing Lionel Mapoe on the wing, and Dewald Potgieter returning to the starting XV in the place of the injured Deon Stegmann.
Werner Kruger gets a starting berth in place of Frik Kirsten, who is also injured.
Scrumhalf Francois Hougaard is expected to make an appearance off the bench, after recovering from an ankle injury, while Wilhelm Steenkamp replaces Paul Willemse as the reserve lock.
Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Dewald Potgieter, Juandre Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Hencus van Wyk, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Jacques Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouche, Lionel Mapoe. – Sapa