British and Irish Lions’ clash to be Ivan van Zyl’s last in a Bulls jersey
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JOHANNESBURG – Ivan van Zyl will play his final game for the Bulls on Saturday, if he is selected to face the British and Irish Lions, at Loftus Versfeld.
The 26-year-old's contract came to an end at the end of June, but an agreement between the player, Saracens and the Pretoria-based outfit has ensured that the Springbok scrumhalf gets the opportunity to make one final, special appearance in the colours of the Bulls.
Van Zyl and the team are hard at work preparing for their up-coming match against the BI Lions and revealed on Monday that the Bulls have taken note of the tourists gameplan, and are working on ways to negate it.
"The preparations are going well," said Van Zyl.
"They are obviously all international players, and they are only going to improve with each and every match they play and every time they train.
"The one thing that every one realises; the big difference between Test rugby and provincial rugby, naturally, is the physical aspect of the game and it is a department that we will have to match them in for us to have any possible chance of putting them under pressure and winning the game.
"The manner in which they play, based on their squad selection, makes it clear that they want to play a faster type of game. They want to move the ball around a bit more, they are focussed on playing a bit quicker and moving the packs around. They are looking for that intensity and we are going to have to match it."
The BI Lions ran the Joburg-based Lions ragged this past Saturday, attacking at every opportunity, and supplementing that approach with pin-point kicks and an excellent defence. They converted eight tries to secure a 56-14 victory, and were precise in their passing and decision-making.
The Bulls were the last South African provincial team to beat the tourists, in 1997, and for coach Jake White's team to repeat that feat the Bulls will have to be near perfect, a fact that Van Zyl agrees with.
"You need to have a complete game," he explained.
"I think you can't simply expect to run everything but you can't over-kick either ... So, I think it's all going to be about balance, and making the right decisions at the right time. They have a massive, high speed on the outside and getting up and especially when you go into a wider edge, they try and gang-tackle you basically, and keep you up. We will need to adapt to that.
"We obviously have some plans where we can act upon that but ultimately everything in your game will have to be sorted and close to perfect for the game."
The Bulls will have one last chance to analyse the B&I Lions when the tourists play the Sharks on Wednesday night at Emirates Airline Park.