MTN8: Pick a winner!

No PSL this weekend, but Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will do battle in the MTN8 final. Have your say on our Forum!

LIVE

    Bulls: No panic button - yet

    2011-04-12 09:26
    Brenden Nel - SuperSport

    Johannesburg - Don’t expect the Vodacom Bulls to be pressing any panic buttons this week, even though they were unable to score a single point against the Crusaders this past weekend in one of their worst performances in Super Rugby this millennium.

    The defending champions may be in crisis mode at the moment, but they certainly won’t be letting it on to anyone outside the camp. There is no doubt that they would also have been shell-shocked by their own performance in Timaru this weekend, but the harsh reality is that bar one or two cases, there are little alternatives for them to try out.

    To change course midstream would be suicide, and the Bulls will continue to bank on the same Springbok stars that have brought them success in the past few seasons. The big question though will be how to get certain players back into form.

    There is no question that while they may be core players in the Springbok squad, the form of players like Wynand Olivier, Pierre Spies, Fourie du Preez, captain Victor Matfield, Morne Steyn and Bakkies Botha is a massive concern at the moment.

    While young players like Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann and Flip van der Merwe play their hearts out every week, there has been little support from the senior players in the squad.

    Handling is an issue, composure – normally a Bulls trademark – is also missing and to put this just down to a simple few bad weeks would be to understate the problem at the moment. While the Bulls denied there was a problem when they lost two on the trot at home, if the Crusaders result doesn’t jolt them, then nothing will.

    You can understand Frans Ludeke’s reluctance to change mid-stream. Like Allister Coetzee with Bryan Habana, the coach believes in his players, having seen them take the game to new heights, but the reality of the situation has to sink in at some point.

    The Bulls have been written off before, and every time they have stood up and shown their critics that they are wrong in every way. But this time, in their biggest challenge in years, it will come down to the senior players to show the leadership skills they have, and pick up the tour and move forward.

    Their match against the high-flying Reds is no redemption. After five wins on the trot the Reds have the momentum, and despite a hectic travel schedule back from South Africa, they must be red hot favourites at Suncorp Stadium – a place where the Bulls have never won in their history.

    It must be remembered too that the Bulls came to Brisbane in a much more confident mood last year on their way to the title, lost 19-12 and looked poor against a Quade Cooper-inspired home side. Ludeke at least is admitting it was not good enough.

    “We've learnt through previous years that we cannot give any excuses for our performance. We aren't happy and we know that it was not good enough. But we are looking forward to our next game against the Reds,” an optimistic Ludeke said from Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold coast.

    “We made too many mistakes. We had a straight talk after the game and we know that we have a standard to keep up. It is still early days to go for the option of making changes.”

    “I believe in the players I have and we still believe in each other so the win will come. A tour is never easy, that's the way the game goes. We must keep our heads up”

    The Bulls know the mammoth task facing them now – not only against the Reds but against the wave of criticism they have received from South Africa.

    Many back home are already saying they’ve past their sell-by date and that taking these stars to the World Cup would be suicide.

    There is only one way to answer these critics – on the field.

    Form is a merciless master, but somehow these Bulls need to find it, and find it fast.

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    31 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    Commented

    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    24 April 2015
    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Does the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory give the Wallabies an edge heading into the Rugby Championship?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.