The inclusion of the Southern Kings into this year’s Super Rugby competition may have been controversial and many sceptics never gave them a chance but the Bulls are under no illusion at the danger posed by a passionate and determined Kings side on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The fact that the Kings come off a successful tour Down Under where they managed to win their last game against the Melbourne Rebels and drew against the Brumbies, will make them an even more dangerous side to face according to Bulls defence coach Pine Pienaar.
Pienaar is wary of the unpredictable nature of their next assignment because of the passion with which the Kings play and the tactical acumen they have shown in their games at home which includes a victory against the Western Force and desperately close losses against the Sharks and Chiefs.
“This will be their first game back at home from their tour and with the stadium sold out they are a side that will be extremely dangerous because they are very passionate,. We can’t control their passion and what they do with it. All we have to do is work on the things we do well and control the problems we had in our game against the Cheetahs. We must put them under pressure and make sure we get the points for our efforts. It will certainly be a physical and tough game and if we allow them a sniff of victory then we will find ourselves scrambling to close off the game. Our plan is to be spot on in the things we do,” Pienaar said yesterday.
However the Bulls preparations for what promises to be a titanic tussle in Port Elizabeth has been disrupted by the Springbok training camp in Cape Town which saw a sizeable contingent of Bulls players not available for training at Loftus Versfeld.
Pienaar, though, would not use the excuse of not having their entire squad available to them and instead warned of the much improved attacking capabilities of the Kings and their resolute defence.
“I would say that they are more dangerous than what people think. They put you under pressure with their defence which often leads to turnovers and they are a difficult side to defend against. Their set-pieces are starting to work out and they have a strong line-out and a very good scrum which was better than the Brumbies, a team we struggled against in the scrum. Their defence works really hard and they grow in confidence from that which allows their flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis to stamp his authority on a game.
“They showed a lot of character in the game against the Rebels and were rewarded with that win after the hooter. They are a quality side who pride themselves in their defence and they have the highest tackle success rate, as well,” Pienaar said. - The Star