PRETORIA – The Bulls are certain that the line-out woes that led to their first loss of the season against the Lions are a thing of the past and that they should be back to their best when they face the Reds in Brisbane tomorrow.
It was in the line-outs where they were savagely mauled by the Lions last weekend with the Johannesburg side scoring four tries from the driving mauls.
Bulls coach John Mitchell lamented their lack of technical accuracy at the set-piece and is confident that it is an area of the game they have addressed ahead of their tour opener.
“We just adjusted something technically, it was something very small, and we’ll come back again with good structure. It is an area that requires a plan and players to fulfil their positions technically, we fell short in that area through our own technical fault,” said Mitchell from the team’s base on Australia’s Gold Coast.
And part of the adjustment the Bulls have made is bringing Nic de Jager at No 8 with Hanro Liebenberg shifting to blindside flank in place of Thembelani Bholi who has been dropped from the match day squad.
At the same time the presence of Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane and lock Jason Jenkins on the bench adds weight to the Bulls intentions of finishing the game stronger but not letting go of their dominance in the set-pieces.
Mitchell has also tinkered with his backline handing Springbok Warrick Gelant his first start of the season at fullback and so too wing Duncan Matthews while the decision to move Handre Pollard back to flyhalf from inside centre and wing Johnny Kotze to No 12 will be an area the Reds will look to exploit.
While Kotze has been outstanding for the men in blue out wide in his two starts, the former Stormers back is untested at inside centre.
However, Mitchell believes that Kotze’s physical attributes will come in handy in stopping the robust and direct Reds’ midfield of Chris Feauai-Sautia and Samu Kerevi in being effective.
Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Duncan Matthews, Handre Pollard, Andre Warner, Nic de Jager, Hanro Liebenberg, Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Frans van Wyk, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Jason Jenkins, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Divan Rossouw.
Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Eto Nabuli, Jono Lance, James Tuttle, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright, Adam Korczyk, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hockings, Angus Scott-Young, Tate McDermott, Hamish Stewart, Duncan Paia’aua