Pretoria – With nothing to lose in this year's Super Rugby competition, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has abandoned his conservative approach for their final match of the season on Friday against the Rebels in Pretoria.
The Light Blues' campaign came to an abrupt end over the weekend following their 16-0 defeat to the Stormers in Cape Town where, Bulls captain Victor Matfield said, the team had conceded too many turnovers in their matches which were detrimental to their campaign.
“Even if you don't score, you have to build pressure with the ball in hand, that is something throughout the season we didn't do well,” Matfield said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Tuesday.
“We gave away too many turnovers – not only at the breakdowns but knocking the ball on or from a bad pass.
“Every time you get momentum and you make a mistake it is costly. It happened the whole year and hopefully we can get that right going forward.”
The Bulls were particularly vulnerable at the breakdowns where the absence of a specialist openside flanker cost them dearly. Ludeke had persisted with Jono Ross, who was more suitable on the blindside or at eighthman.
For Friday's clash Roelof Smit had been named in the starting lineup at blindside. He was part of a loose trio consisting of Jacques Engelbrecht at eighthman, in the place of the injured Grant Hattingh, and Ross who would bind on the other side of the scrum.
Ludeke made seven changes to the side which included a new-look front row for the match with hooker Bandise Maku earning a rare starting berth ahead of Callie Visagie.
Maku would combine with Marcel van der Merwe at tighthead and Morne Mellett at loose head, who had replaced Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling respectively.
Regular scrumhalf Francois Hougaard would cover at wing where he was standing in for the injured Akona Ndungane. Bjorn Basson shifted to the other side of the field.
Piet van Zyl slotted into the scrumhalf position where he would combine with Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard.
Fullback Jurgen Visser, who was a late exclusion in the Cape Town match suffering an adductor strain, had been declared fit while Ulrich Beyers moved out of the side altogether.
Matfield said while it was a disappointing season for the Bulls, he believed they had some of the best young talent in the country to see them return to their former glory in the future.
“If you have a look at this team, we have a great youngsters and if people can give us just a little bit of time these guys can really start something special over the six or seven years,” Matfield said.
“It is just sometimes about backing these young players and getting them to earn the experience then they will do something.”
Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Handre Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jono Ross, Roelof Smit, Victor Matfield (captain), Paul Willemse, Marcel van der Merwe, Bandise Maku, Morne Mellett. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Marvin Orie, Jesse Kriel, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, William-Small Smith. – Sapa