PRETORIA – The clean sweep of South African franchises before their first bye of the 2019 Super Rugby season seemed to have lulled the Bulls into complacency.
The Bulls camp could give few answers for what could have led to the massacre against the Chiefs last weekend.
The Pretoria franchise have already put the defeat behind them as they face another brutal local derby with the Sharks lying in wait at Jonsson Kings Park tomorrow.
But it is debatable whether the Bulls will be any the wiser about their real standing in the competition whether they win, lose or draw against the Sharks.
So far they have only been able to beat their fellow South Africans, with the Jaguares and Chiefs finding ways to dismantle their game plan.
The Bulls have been impressive in the three matches against their local counterparts but they would have to emulate that against the overseas teams to stand any chance of progressing to the play-offs.
The team was surprisingly honest this week as they admitted that a sense of complacency may have snuck in after they reached the top of the South African Conference only a month into the competition.
Bulls coach Pote Human said the defeat was a reminder that the competition is a marathon rather than a sprint and they would have to pace themselves and produce consistent performances throughout the campaign.
Captain Handre Pollard admitted that the derbies instilled greater urgency in the players with Springbok selection lingering in the back of their minds.
“With the South African derbies you are always up for it because it is like trials in a World Cup year, but you also have to get yourself up for the overseas teams,” Pollard said.
“If you are not up for it, what happens is what happened to us last week, so we will be up for it and try to execute better.”
The Bulls were completely off the pace against the Chiefs after they were tactically astute and almost faultless in their victories over the South African sides.
It suggests the players did not pull their weight on the day, which Pollard came close to admitting ahead of this weekend’s clash against the Sharks.
“You’ve got to pitch (up) on Saturday, they (the coaches) do all the work during the week as well as they can and it is up to the players to pitch on Saturday - it’s as simple as that,” Pollard said.
“You put in the same amount of energy in preparations for every game, the stats remain the same every week, then on Saturday it is a mental and a personal thing where you need to make that switch in your head.”
They may face a familiar foe at the Shark Tank but it hardly makes the task of reviving their campaign any easier.
The Sharks may not have one specific playmaker the Bulls can target which Pollard believes makes them an even tougher prospect.
“It is a quality side and there is nobody that really stands out, which makes them tricky because you can’t target one guy.”@ockertde