We need to be at our best: Flip
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe has warned his teammates it will take an exceptional performance like last year to beat the Blues this Saturday in their Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld.
According to the supersport.com website, last year the Bulls broke their duck in Auckland with a magnificent win, but the Blues are arguably a better side this time around and have arrived on a high after coming from behind to beat the Crusaders last weekend in scintillating fashion.
And it clear the Blues will try, as so many other teams do at Loftus Versfeld, to try and run the Bulls off their feet this weekend.
Van der Merwe referred to the team approach last year in Auckland, where the Bulls scored early on, and then followed it up with some exceptional defence to win a historic game.
“What stood up from last year’s win was our workrate. It wasn’t the perfect win by a long shot, but our workrate stood out. Everyone played off their feet and that will be needed this week again if we want to beat the Blues,” Van der Merwe said.
“You need to be at your best, you need to make good decisions and you need to play well.”
The Bulls captain was clearly impressed with the way the Blues have played this year, and in the way they beat the Crusaders last weekend.
“It’s still very early in the season, but they’re a very good side. The Crusaders win was massive, coming from behind and beating them that far. To beat an outfit like the Crusaders like takes some doing. But we’re focusing on what we need to do.”
Van der Merwe said while the team was overjoyed with their own win over the Lions in the wet – a win that stopped a two game losing streak – they know they need to win at home in the competition, and with the team off on a bye next weekend, the victory is non-negotiable, or in Van der Merwe’s words “a must win.”
“We’re still chasing the process, we’re still chasing the perfect game,” Van der Merwe explained.
“The Blues will be a different challenge to the Lions, they’re much more technical than they were before. We have to get another win before that bye weekend. It is another home game, it is another must win for us.”
But the Springbok lock did say that after weeks of playing only in rain, he was hoping that Loftus would be a very dry place on Saturday.
“The wet field won’t make a difference. The way we play is the same if it is a wet field or a dry one. It would be nice to have a dry field for a change, but every time we’ve had the ball in the past few weeks, we haven’t been too bad on attack.
“Our turnovers haven’t been from handling mistakes, that has still been very good. If it’s wet or dry, it’s like that for both teams.”
The Bulls will celebrate a double milestone on Saturday, with Akona Ndungane becoming the first black player to play 100 games for one franchise while his fellow wing partner Bjorn Basson will get his 50th cap.