Pretoria - The Bulls may be more than happy at their second stringers’ big victory over the Cheetahs this weekend in Polokwane, but they’re not getting carried away, knowing that English Premiership side Saracens will be a better test of their abilities, the supersport.com website reports.
It was hard to wipe the smile off Frans Ludeke’s face on Saturday when the team cruised away in the second half to a 30-13 win against a strong Cheetahs side, especially as it meant that the one thing lacking from the 2014 campaign - depth - looks a lot better this year around.
There will be competition for places in the squad, most notably at fullback, centre, loose forward and prop with the Bulls now having a lot more options than they had before.
Add to this the return of injured star Arno Botha and things are looking a lot better.
“I’m very happy, especially when you sit back after the time and you can see all the small things they worked on in the off-season that came together,” Ludeke said.
“We had no injuries and the combinations looked good. There were a number of players who had their first taste of action at this level and they came through well. The injured guys all came through well, so we’re very happy.”
But Ludeke warned that the Saracens game would be a better test for the team, certainly to see where they are in terms of form. From Saturday’s action and given the stars that didn’t play it would be fair to assume a better campaign but not quite the confidence of 2009 and 2010 for the Bulls.
“It was an important start for everybody. The team that played in Polokwane took the responsibility to get the campaign off on a positive start,” Ludeke said.
“I think they did it very well and whoever plays against Saracens has to take the responsibility to take that further. We have to keep building step by step. The first game is against the Stormers and we have three games at home at the start of the campaign, so it is very important for us to start well in the competition. That is where we’re working towards.
“It was a warm-up game but it is always crucial to get a good result, because it gives the team a bit of momentum ahead of next week. Next week we will see a completely different team, a team that is in form and that will really test us. They are one of the contenders in the European League and are in form. But that is the point, we need to test ourselves against good opposition that will put you under pressure. We will definitely have a better idea of where we stand next week."
Ludeke said his side needed to be realistic in their expectations as for many it would be their first competitive outing in over three months. Contrast that to a battle-hardened Saracens and its easy to see why the Bulls will not be worried about the result.
“We have to be realistic, especially where we are at the start of our season. You also know that if you play well, then the points will come.
“Then you can put yourself into the position to get the result you want. We know it will be hard, they are an exceptionally good outfit who have been in the finals of the Heineken Cup twice in the past few years. We know their strengths and the quality of the players they have. It is important for us to test where we are by playing against one of the top teams in Europe."
The team will leave for London on Wednesday with Pierre Spies set to make his comeback after injury in the game.
Players such as Trevor Nyakane, Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein, Akona Ndungane, Bjorn Basson, Francois Hougaard and Marcel van der Merwe are set to play this weekend