Vodacom Super Rugby
Victor could miss Rebels game
Pretoria - The knowledge that there is no longer a safety net for the Bulls in this year's Super Rugby tournament is enough reason for the team to play with enough purpose against the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday.
That was the view of Bulls coach Frans Ludeke after his team started training on Monday following last week's bye.
"It was a good time for us to break up and have a little bit of private time. I can see the guys are mentally refreshed," said Ludeke.
The coach need not light a fire under his players to get them sharp for the game - as was the case before the match against the Chiefs two weeks ago - because nothing has changed as far as he is concerned.
"We're still on our last chance. The guys know what a defeat will do to our campaign. You could see it in the way they reacted when we were down 3-20 against the Chiefs after half an hour. That fightback tells you everything about the team's character and willpower," said Ludeke.
It is precisely for that reason that he did not want to comment about rumours that Ruan Pienaar could shortly link up with the Bulls.
"I don't know anything about that and would like to find out more before I comment. What I will say is that our team is coming together nicely now and I won't just bring in new players."
Ludeke will have to change the side that beat the Chiefs.
Captain Victor Matfield has a neck injury and the chances are good that he will miss the weekend's match. Danie Rossouw will then move into the lock position, with Dewald Potgieter set to run on as flank.
Potgieter missed the Chiefs game with a sore ankle, but looked comfortable again on Monday while jogging with Bulls physiotherapist Stephen Plummer on the sidelines.
Francois Hougaard, who left the field early against the Chiefs, also trained with them.
"We will take those decisions later in the week. There is, of course, also a bigger picture as far as the players are concerned and their well-being comes first. Victor has played in all our games and remains a key player for us, but we won't risk him if he's not ready," said Ludeke.
He admitted that the Rebels are an unknown factor for the Bulls. The coach was also glad that Danny Cipriani did not arrive in the country with the visiting side.
"He is a very good player, but it doesn't really help to discuss him now because he's not here and won't play against us. The player that will step into his boots will know what he's doing," said Ludeke.
"They have been inconsistent this year, but have demonstrated that they could be a very dangerous team when things go right for them. We will prepare this week with the goal of not giving them the chance to get into the game and come up with any surprises."