PRETORIA – Bulls coach Pote Human hailed his team’s four-week tour of Australasia as a success after they finished the New Zealand leg with draws against the Blues and Highlanders.
It was the Bulls’ best tour since 2010, boosting their chances of reaching the playoffs in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.
“We would have wanted to win but the way the guys fought back in the second half was excellent and to fight till the end was great,” Human said. “The Bulls usually don’t do well overseas, and I think it was an unbelievably good tour for us.”
The two draws said something about the Bulls’ character.
The Bulls may even have been in line for a home quarter-final as South African conference winners had a few calls gone their way, and the ball bounced in their favour.
But Human was happy to take a win and two draws from the four matches considering how awful the Bulls had been on tour in recent years.
His charges produced loads of character, and the list of injuries tells the story of how his players put their bodies on the line. Springbok hooker Schalk Brits and loose forward Marco van Staden were two of the casualties in Friday’s war of attrition against the Highlanders in their 24-all draw in Dunedin. They both suffered concussions, and Human said it was unlikely they would play a part in their last match of the regular season against the Lions at Loftus this Saturday.
Inside centre and Bulls stalwart Burger Odendaal suffered an ankle injury, and the Pretoria-based team will be hoping he will be fit for Saturday’s clash.
“It will be a must win for both sides, the Lions are in form at the moment, and they are playing excellent running rugby, so it is going to be an unbelievable game at Loftus,” Human said. “It is a blow for us, but Jaco Visagie did well when he came on, Johan Grobbelaar is also hungry, and they should get the opportunity.
“Fortunately Duane Vermeulen is also back this week, which will make a big difference to the pack.”
The Bulls are one win or at least one bonus point away from reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
They will be hosting the Lions, who are one point behind them on the overall log, and will be equally desperate to cement a playoff spot.@ockertde