Bulls' Boks fired up for action
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Pretoria – The fact that Victor Matfield and his fellow Bulls Boks phoned from Cape Town at lunch time on Tuesday to enquire whether they could still make it to the Blue Bulls training session on time shows how eager the team’s five Springboks are to have the Barberton Daisy on their chests again and run out against Griquas on Saturday.
However, the fact that they were somewhere in the sky above Kimberley when the training session was completed makes including Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Morné Steyn, Danie Rossouw and Wynand Olivier in the Bulls team for the last Currie Cup league game hardly ideal.
It is not just the team’s rhythm that could suffer, but also the rhythm of the five players as they still had to undergo tests on Tuesday following their conditioning programmes.
While Rossouw and Botha are stronger than ever according to the tests, it will only be seen against Griquas on Saturday whether that will translate into good performances.
Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was diplomatic in his response to a question on why the testing of the contracted Boks had not taken place last week - a decision that would have helped all the Currie Cup teams in their preparations this week.
“Originally we were only going to get the guys back on Thursday, so SA Rugby actually helped us by releasing them earlier. It was agreed that the tests should have been completed last week, but the Sports Science Institute could apparently not fit it in.”
Ludeke did not want to concede that it had disrupted his team’s preparations.
“It’s just five guys coming in and they know the structures. They had a session with us last week, so I’m very confident that the engine will be oiled when we run out in Kimberley.”
He did concede that Griquas, who have no contracted Boks, could prepare without a hitch this week.
“They probably have more momentum than us, but we’re not looking at other teams. For us it’s about focusing on what we do. It means that Wednesday’s sessions have to be sharp and accurate. I don’t foresee any problems,” said Ludeke.
“I’m also more than happy with the sessions that the rest of the team put in today.”
Ludeke does not have any tough selections to make as far as integrating the Boks into the side is concerned.
Matfield is likely to have Botha next to him in the engine room, with Rossouw earmarked to play as a loose forward.
Steyn and Olivier are also likely to replace Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Stefan Watermeyer.
Meanwhile, Gary Botha will know on Wednesday whether he will play again this year. He will consult an ankle specialist and chances are that he will have to undergo surgery.