Cornal Hendricks of the Bulls during a training session at Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Cornal Hendricks of the Bulls during a training session at Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Bulls ‘planning as if we are definitely going to play’ against Pumas

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Nov 16, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Despite ongoing concerns about Covid-19, the Bulls “have all the faith in the world” that Friday’s crucial Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pumas will be played.

SA Rugby decided to postpone the Pumas’ game against the Lions, scheduled for Saturday, on the day before the match after three players received positive test results for Covid-19.

“Contact tracing protocols were followed which identified that all the infected players were engaged in a scrumming session. As a result, a number of the Pumas forwards have been placed in quarantine for 10 days,” the governing body stated on Friday.

That means that those Pumas players will theoretically only come out of quarantine on Thursday, which will give them hardly any time to prepare for Friday night’s showdown at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff).

The Pumas have stated in media reports over the weekend that they are keen to play, even if it means shifting the match to Saturday or even Sunday.

The Bulls would welcome that approach, seeing as they top the log with 19 points – just two ahead of the Stormers and Sharks, who face each other in Durban on Saturday (7pm kickoff).

So, if the Bulls-Pumas match is declared a draw, each team will receive two points, which will move Jake White’s side up to 21.

And while the Pretoria outfit do have a favourable plus-70 points differential, the winners of the Kings Park clash will claim the title if they win with a bonus point, as such a result would take their log tally to 22.

Ultimately, SA Rugby will make the final decision – and there is still a chance of the match being rescheduled.

But for the Bulls, it is business as usual. “We have all the faith in the world that it’s going to happen, and we prep as if it’s going to happen. So, all we can do is get bad news – but for us, we really believe that it will happen,” defence coach Joey Mongalo said during an online press conference on Monday.

“And I don’t think it will be great for the Pumas if they don’t play this weekend, because then, they wouldn’t have played for about four weekends before they play again.

“We really believe that everything is going to work out, and we are planning as if we are definitely going to play.”

Mongalo added that the effects of Covid-19 were being felt off the field as well at the Bulls.

“It’s weird, and even if you take it on the family front, normally this time of the year, we are in pre-season and trying to plan family holidays and stuff. Even that, you can’t even nail down. So, if you can’t tie down something like that, which we are all used to in this part of the year, it means that everything else is a lot more complex,” he said.

“I guess whoever adapts the best and changes the best is probably likely to get the best reward from it. I’ve just done an assignment on change management, and that’s what we were speaking about – how Covid-19 has challenged how well teams and people are able to be agile, and change based on what’s placed in front of them.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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