Bulls look to bounce back
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says his side aims to be bigger, stronger and faster going into this year's Super Rugby season.
Ludeke said on Wednesday that the first phase of getting his squad back to winning ways had been a resounding success.
"We are really satisfied with our pre-season preparations and definitely achieved the goals we set ourselves," Ludeke said.
They had put extra emphasis, he added, on conditioning training during the off-season break and would now shift their attention to rugby matters.
"There was a rugby component but the core of our pre-season training was conditioning - bigger, stronger and faster," Ludeke said.
"We worked on the type of work ethic for the players to get back to their feet and back into play."
The focus on conditioning, Ludeke said, was to ensure that the players were fit enough to last an entire match.
"We believe conditioning should make us a team that will be competitive for 80 minutes.
"That is what it is all about. Fitness is the foundation everything revolves around."
He said it was the first time in four years the Bulls had a full squad at their disposal, compared to other seasons when a large contingent of their players were involved in the Springboks' end-of-year tours.
The Bulls viewed this as an opportunity to get all the players on the same fitness level.
Ludeke said the franchise needed some introspection after last year's poor performance.
They have lifted the Super Rugby title three times in the last five years, but failed to reach the playoffs in the 2011 competition.
"We definitely highlighted that we needed to find a way forward," he said.
"Last year we saw that we did not have enough possession in our games and specifically the right type of possession."
The squad had made some adjustments to their game plan, according to the coach, and they were excited about what they had in mind.
The Bulls will play their first warm-up match against the Kings in Port Elizabeth on February 4 and their second against the Cheetahs on February 11 in Polokwane.
They start their Super Rugby campaign against the Sharks on February 24 in Pretoria.
Ludeke said they had no new injury concerns other than the recent news that Bulls vice-captain Wynand Olivier suffered a slight setback in his comeback from injury when he broke a small bone in his wrist.