Vodacom Super Rugby
Ludeke: The Bulls come first
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has no concerns over his players' mentality going into their vital Super Rugby fixture against local rivals the Stormers at Loftus Versveld on Saturday.
The Springbok squad for the home tour against England will be named after the match, but Ludeke is confident his charges will have their heads in the game.
"We have given focus to the Super Rugby, which is our priority," Ludeke said this week.
"We have a big meeting this weekend against the Stormers so the players know what needs to be done and that the Bulls come first.
"The players understand that Springbok places are up for grabs but at the same time, the focus is on getting the top spot in the conference.
"Going into the [Super Rugby] break, we need to be in the best possible position in this tournament."
The Bulls returned from their four-week tour of Australasia with two wins from four matches, having beaten the Melbourne Rebels and the Waratahs, but lost to the Highlanders and Chiefs in consecutive weeks.
The losses have meant a break in momentum and Bulls skipper Pierre Spies believed the Pretoria side had to make home advantage count in their favour to get back to winning ways.
"We played well against the Chiefs and then we just fell short at the end but we are sitting with another opportunity this weekend," Spies said.
"It's a tough task playing against the Stormers but we are glad we are playing at home and we will throw all our energy behind a good result this weekend."
Meanwhile, the Stormers beat the travelling Waratahs at Newlands a fortnight ago, before losing 25-20 to a spirited Sharks outfit in Durban.
The Stormers will be without several of their key players for the Loftus clash, including Joe Pietersen, Schalk Burger and Springbok lock Andries Bekker, who has been ruled out for five weeks with a recurring back injury, leaving the Bulls with an opportunity to reclaim the top spot in the SA conference.
The Bulls are fourth on the overall log with 48 points, two behind the Stormers and three ahead of the Sharks, who are up against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Heyneke Meyer hinted last month that he would watch Saturday's north-south derby with both eyes closed, fearing injuries to some of the players pencilled into his first squad as Springbok coach.
"I understand that Heyneke might not be keen to watch the match because of injuries," Spies said.
"Hopefully we can finish the game without too many serious injuries and SA Rugby can put a proper team together for the following week."