PRETORIA - The Bulls will again look to that little thing called pride to help them over the line when they face the Southern Kings in their Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It is that same pride that saw them last week Friday pull a rabbit out of the hat in Durban when they beat the Sharks, and Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss says they will be looking for more of the same at home against the Kings.
With their season in ruins and more losses than wins, especially at home, the Bulls will be looking at bringing the curtain down on a painful season with some victories in order to restore their pride and soothe their hurting supporters.
Once a fortress for the Bulls and a source of intimidation for opponents in years gone by, Loftus, has become fertile ground for picking up valuable points for visiting teams and it has lost its lustre after the Bulls suffered heavy defeats at the hands of the Crusaders and Hurricanes.
“Ja it’s definitely pride at stake for us," Strauss said. "But I think more so because we lost games at home and coach Nollis (Marais) really emphasised at the beginning of the year that we want to play good rugby and win, especially at Loftus.
"We need to get that pride back at Loftus and it is very important for us to play well at our home ground."
However, pride won’t be enough to thwart off a Kings side that is fresh off a morale boosting win against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires and Strauss has called on his troops to replicate the same intensity and attitude they showed in dismantling the Sharks last week.
While the Bulls have been found wanting with their intensity throughout the duration of their games this season, the consistency in team selection with only two changes in Travis Ismaiel and Tian Schoeman starting at wing and flyhalf respectively, the Bulls will be hoping to continue with the momentum they found in Durban.
“It was a very good and much needed win for us. I think the intensity was good and the attitude was there, something coach Nollis asked for during the week," Strauss said.
"We had a couple of weeks off and there was a lot of energy and the intensity was there for 80 minutes. It is something that throughout the year we had for 20, 40 or 60 minutes but the fight was there for the whole 80 minutes and it made a massive difference."
As much as the Bulls will be on their own mini crusade for their pride, they will also have to keep an eye on the Kings who have shown little to no fear of the pedigree and status of opposition teams.
In what will be their final act away from home in Super Rugby, following Saru's decision to trim the competition's South African contingent to four, the Kings will want to claim yet another big scalp and Marais is very much aware of the threat that lies in ambush ahead of Saturday's encounter.
“I think they have played good rugby throughout the season, they travel well and their coach Deon Davids has done very well with the side. They are playing very well and if we want to beat them we will have to be on top of our game,” said Marais.
"They will come to Loftus and want to give us a hiding. We expect that at the moment especially from them because they might not be playing Super Rugby next year and they will want to prove a point."
Bulls team: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Duncan Matthews, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Nic de Jager, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Conraad van Vuuren, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Lizo Gqoboka; Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman, John-Roy Jenkinson, Ruben van Heerden, Shaun Addendorf, Andre Warner, Tinus de Beer, Burger Odendaal.
Southern Kings team: Malcolm Jaer, Wandile Mjekevu, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje (captain), Louis Schreuder, Andisa Ntsila, Tyler Paul, Chris Cloete, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Irne Herbst, Ross Geldenhuys, Michael Willemse, Mzamo Majola; Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Schalk Ferreira, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Mzwanele Zito, Thembelani Bholi, Stefan Ungerer, Masixole Banda, Yaw Penxe