Pretoria – The Blue Bulls will use their trip to the Lowveld to do some fine tuning before next week’s Currie Cup semi-final clash against Western Province.
To add some further spice to the encounter between the Blue Bulls and the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday the Pretoria side will be playing to win a single log point to ensure a home semi-final at Loftus Versfeld for the first time since 2008.
Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais said his charges will be looking to remedy the chronic problem this season of a slow start in their matches.
"There are things we try to put in place to avoid the slow start but we make mistakes that the teams exploit," Marais said.
"We need to get them right this week to be ready for next week when you only have once chance."
While unforced errors in the opening salvos of their games have been a bugbear for Marais, the scrums received the most attention over the last few weeks.
Marais has called in the services of scrum guru Balie Swart while he has put his faith in the 21-year-old Pierre Schoeman and Marcel van der Merwe in the front row.
The Bulls can expect a proper test in Nelspruit on Friday when they have to scrum down against seasoned and respected props Vincent Koch and Corné Fourie.
"Corné and Vincent are good scrummagers, they (the Pumas) have been scrumming well as a pack, it will be a good challenge for us to see where we stand and what we still need to work on before we play against one of the best scrumming side Western Province," Marais said.
Marais was also relieved to have openside flanker Deon Stegmann back after he missed last week’s clash against the EP Kings due to flu.
"Steggies was a huge loss for us last week especially with the way we want to play, he brings that extra speed to the rucks and things like that," Marais said.
"It is good to have him back this week, he and Lappies (Labuschagne) complement each other, so I am looking forward to having him back."
15 Hoffmann Marnitz, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Rudi Mathee, 4 Giant Mtyanda, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Corne Fourie
Substitutes: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanché, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Dylan Petersen, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Hennie Skorbinski, 22 Wilmaure Louw
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (captain), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 RG Snyman, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Ivan van Zyl, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 William Small-Smith