PRETORIA – The Bulls will be looking to “bully” the Hurricanes up front in Wellington tomorrow in their bid to reach the Super Rugby semi-finals.
Bulls coach Pote Human has asked his pack of forwards to once again lead the charge in their quarter-final clash.
“Our pack will have to fire we have to physically bully them - that is the only way we can beat them,” Human said. “Nobody expected us to be in the quarters so there is no pressure on us and we can go and play, which will make us dangerous.”
The Bulls have the personnel with an impressive pedigree to do just that with the loose trio alone providing enough grunt to earn respect from the opposition.
The trio is led by talismanic Springbok number eight Duane Vermeulen, who is well supported by Hanro Liebenberg and Marco van Staden.
RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins are equally impressive as a second-row combination, while the front row sans Schalk Brits have been perhaps the most consistently good performers this year. Props Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane have carried the pack and deserve plenty of praise for their efforts this season.
The Bulls may be targeting the forwards battle as a way to overcome the Hurricanes but it does not mean it will be an easy task.
The Hurricanes are one of the top sides at the breakdown, where they slow opposition ball and test the boundaries of the rules.
“We have to stop them there, we need to try and get quick ball, which may not be easy against them but we will prepare well,” Human said. “We will do what we can to get quick ball and if they flood, we will have numbers on our feet so it will be interesting.”
Human has named his strongest possible side for the clash despite being unable to call on stalwarts Brits and Burger Odendaal. Brits has not recovered from flu and Odendaal has a collarbone injury.
Jesse Kriel will make his return from an ankle injury which will cushion the blow of Odendaal’s absence.
Kriel will partner Jonny Kotze in midfield and the Bulls will hope the Springbok centre will pick up from where he left off before his injury at the end of April.
The Pretoria side are cautious about the Hurricanes' back-line which is brimming with X-factor players who can run a team rampant from anywhere on the field.
The Hurricanes back-line reads like a weapons catalogue with the likes of Ngani Laumape, TJ Perenara, and Beauden and Jordie Barrett providing enough fire power to blow up any team.
Bulls captain Handre Pollard said that while the odds may favour the Hurricanes, they still fancy their chances of causing an upset against the Kiwi franchise.
“They play at home, have won this competition before and have so many strike players that will keep us busy,” Pollard said. “We have found some good momentum in the last couple of weeks though and will back ourselves on Saturday.”
The Bulls team v Hurricanes:
Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Rosko Specman, Handre Pollard, Andre Warner, Duane Vermeulen, Hanro Liebenberg, Marco van Staden, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima, Wiehahn Herbst, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw@ockertde