PRETORIA – Having already suffered three successive defeats in as many weeks, the Bulls now head to Christchurch to face the Crusaders with their hopes of a historic and maiden victory dashed by the injuries to lock RG Snyman, scrumhalf Andre Warner and the suspension to prop Conraad van Vuuren.
Snyman suffered a facial fracture and is likely to be out for four to six weeks while Warner sustained a concussion in the Bulls' 41-28 loss to the Chiefs on Friday.
Both Snyman and Warner have returned home with the Bulls beefing up their squad for the last game of their three match tour with scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl and loose forward Hendre Stassen.
While the Bulls have sufficient cover at lock with Jason Jenkins likely to be elevated to the starting line-up in place of Snyman, Junior Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier will face the biggest challenge of his fledgling career if he called upon to start against the Crusaders.
And the Bulls woes continue with a three match ban likely to be handed down to Van Vuuren for a reckless and late tackle with a swinging arm that struck the face of Damian McKenzie.
Van Vuuren’s juvenile rush of blood to the head justifiably saw him being cited for an offence that was worthy of a red card but considering that he is a first time offender and will in all likehood plead guilty, Van Vuuren will probably get some leniency from the Foul Play Review Committee.
The Bulls, though, won’t waste time wallowing in the misery of what could have been in their losses to the Lions at home, the Reds in Brisbane and to the Chiefs in Hamilton and instead they will heed the lessons and remain hopefully that they will turn the corner Friday in Christchurch.
Bulls coach John Mitchell has called on his team to be patient and continue trusting in themselves and the blueprint he has laid out for them and that was so evident for greater parts of the match against the Chiefs before the Bulls ceded the lead and ultimately the match in the last 20 minutes.
“We have to learn from it and understand the reasons why we fell short,” Mitchell said.
“It is about us trusting our skill sets. There are quality guys here, guys working hard and putting ourselves in a position to win these matches. We have got to learn to be patient and also learn to outwork these Kiwi teams. Not too many teams come to this country and get victories if you look at the history books.
I think we have a nice template as long as we can continue to find ways to outwork New Zealand opposition and we continue to play fast and in their faces and take the space away from them as you saw in for large periods of the match,” added Mitchell.