PRETORIA - It won’t be much of an edge but the Bulls will take it anyway.
While the Stormers have struggled to win away from Newlands this year, the Bulls will take some belief and confidence from their solitary away win (40-10) against the Sharks in Durban two weeks ago when they head to Cape Town this weekend.
It might be clutching at straws but the men in blue will need to muster all the belief, all of their abilities and learnings this season if they are to become the first visiting team to win at Newlands this year.
And in order for John Mitchell’s men to silence the Newlands faithful and get back to winning ways after last weekend’s defeat against the Highlanders, Mitchell says it will be important for them to use the lessons from their victories and defeats this season to finally put on that performance they have been chasing.
“It is certainly a deposit of belief for us. But it is about us getting it right on the day. I think for every team now, every game counts. You just focus on one race at a time and trying to get better," Mitchell said after Wednesday's team announcement.
"There comes a point where you got to make a choice of whether you want to get better and stop learning as a result, because there comes a point where you’ve got to accept that there has been enough learning and you’ve had enough situations that you’ve experienced that allows you to be able to cope with any situation.
"I think we’ve had enough situations in this competition to realize and make the most of whatever comes our way. I think there comes a point where we’ve actually got to stop learning and make it happen."
It is in maintaining almost the same team for the past four matches that Mitchell is hoping that his side will produce that near flawless performance that will hand them victory.
Mitchell has made one change with Andre Warner starting at scrumhalf in place of Ivan van Zyl who drops to the bench while the Bulls medical staff is confident that forward Jason Jenkins and wing Divan Rossouw will recover from their injuries to take up their starting positions.
The Bulls have made the necessary plans if Jenkins and Rossouw fail to be fit with a reshuffle of the loose trio on the cards and Travis Ismaiel coming in on the wing.
But as much as Mitchell doesn’t want to change much in his team’s approach and game-plan, the former All Black coach knows that he will need to make some minor adjustments in order to catch out the Stormers.
At the same time Mitchell is wary of the emotions that the Stormers will be playing with considering their captain Siya Kolisi will be reaching the milestone of his 100th Super Rugby appearance.
Besides being fuelled by sentiment of wanting to make it a memorable day for Kolisi, Mitchell is also wary of the danger posed by in-form Springbok centre Damian de Allende who was also a handful at Loftus and has been one of the stand out players in the competition this year.
“No we’ll stick to the same stuff. Ultimately the Stormers are a different contest altogether and they come with different challenges so we focus on them specifically. We both know enough about each other, clearly it will come down to who made the right adjustments in order to exploit opportunity," Mitchell said.
"We think the weather will be kind to us in Cape Town. But it is also going to be an emotive day as well, Kolisi needs to be congratulated for playing a hundred games in Super Rugby. And then you have the form of (Damian) De Allende who has been outstanding recently and pretty unlucky not to get player of the day against the Rebels.”
Bulls team: Warrick Gelant, Johnny Kotze, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Divan Rossouw/Travis Ismaiel, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl, Thembelani Bholi/Marco van Staden, Jason Jenkins/Thembelani Bholi, Marco van Staden/Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Frans van Wyk/Nqobisiwe Mxoli, Conraad van Vuuren, Hendre Stassen/Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw/Travis Ismaiel.