Do-or-die attitude for Bulls
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke knows full well a slip-up against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld this weekend could bring their Super Rugby campaign to an abrupt end.
While the Bulls still hold their fate in their own hands, they did not do themselves any favours with last week’s 32-10 loss to the Sharks in Durban.
“We are one of the teams that are in a do-or-die situation, so you can’t get too worried about it,” Ludeke said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“We just need to make sure we do what we have to do on Saturday.
“The mindset at the moment is that we make sure we get a result on Saturday.”
If the Bulls pull through and remain in fifth position on the log, they could be faced with the unenviable task of facing the Crusaders in Christchurch in the playoffs.
A loss, however, could see the lower ranked teams move ahead of them in the standings and they may lose out on reaching the playoffs altogether.
“It is unbelievable if you look at the log and all the teams from three through to eight are in the same situation, and it just shows you the quality of the competition this year,” Ludeke said.
“We are in the same boat as some of the other teams and luckily it is still in our hands.
“If we play well enough we can ensure that our dream is still alive."
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said they were disappointed with their all-round performance against the Sharks last week and admitted they had some improvements to make if they wanted to beat the Lions on Saturday.
“It was a night where we didn’t start out well," Spies said.
"We played against a Sharks team that put us under pressure in all aspects of the game.
“We are definitely not happy with the result and it wasn’t a good result for us.
"There are some things to work on this week going into the Lions game.
“We know it is a very important game for us and I think it is just about putting everything together.”
Meanwhile, Ludeke made only one change to their run-on side with lock Wilhelm Steenkamp replacing the injured Flip van der Merwe.
“Wilhelm made a huge impact every time he came on and even the games he started. He is an old campaigner,” Ludeke said.
“It is always good to have that experience when somebody like Flip gets an injury, especially in a vital game like this weekend."
Blindside flanker Deon Stegmann could make his return for the Bulls after a long injury absence if he plays off the bench.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Deon Stegmann, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Francois Venter