Pretoria – While it may seem that Saturday’s encounter at what is expected to be a sell-out crowd at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth between the Southern Kings and Bulls is the perfect stage for the home side to shine, Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted on Wednesday that his team will also thrive under the conditions.
In a market research survey done a few years ago by the Blue Bulls Company, it was revealed that the Bulls’ biggest support outside the capital city lies in the Eastern Cape.
And there seems to be hope among players within the Bulls team that the vibrant crowd in Port Elizabeth will be screaming for them.
Even though the Kings will have some claim that much interest is generated because of their heroics on their recent tour overseas, the reality is that the Bulls still enjoy the upperhand of having played in front of huge crowds and handling the pressure that comes with these big South African derbies.
Put aside the emotions which saw Bulls coach Frans Ludeke become a father again to premature triplets on Wednesday, the Bulls are determined to secure their second successive win after beating the Cheetahs last week to climb further up the combined log and safely into a play-off position.
“The greater the challenge the greater the reward. It is a game we are looking forward to. It’s a long competition and we know the importance of playing in these derbies. The atmosphere and whatever Saturday may bring is going to be great for us and our preparation has been around that as well as embracing it and making sure we have a great day,” Spies said at Wednesday team announcement.
Working in favour of the Bulls will be the fact that they have named an unchanged starting team to face the Kings with Ludeke resisting the temptation of starting now fit Springbok wing Bjorn Basson who will start from the bench.
The Bulls, though, remain without influential utility back Francois Hougaard who was on Wednesday ruled out of contention because of an ankle injury.
“Francois will not be available against the Kings as his injury has not fully healed. He did receive an injection on Tuesday but we opted not to put him up for selection. Hopefully he will be fit and available next week,” said Bulls doctor Org Strauss..
However, it doesn’t seem as though Hougaard’s absence will have any impact on the team with Spies believing that having the same team will be beneficial in maintaining the momentum gathered from the win against the Cheetahs.
“We have good depth but it is great to have the same starting team going into another match. It keeps that momentum going,” said Spies.
Spies conceded that his team are not underestimating the threat the Kings pose. “Obviously they are playing with a lot of passion. It is going to be another tough game in PE,” Spies said.
Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Lionel Mapoe, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Werner Kruger, Paul Willemse, Arno Botha, Rudy Paige, Louis Fouché, Bjorn Basson. – Pretoria News