Ludeke: We react well to pressure
Ockert de Villiers, Sport24
Pretoria - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke would be excused for having sleepless nights in the build-up to his side’s Australasian tour, as they will be looking for a minimum of three victories to remain in the Super Rugby title race.
Speaking on their departure on Monday, Ludeke said that the pressurised nature of the tour would bring out the best in his charges.
"I think the team reacts well to pressure. We would like to be there at the end (the playoffs), which makes it a crucial tour for us," Ludeke said in Pretoria on Monday.
"We need to pick up a few results (over) there but it has always been like (that) and the process would get you there."
The Bulls will face a struggling Blues side in their opening encounter at Eden Park on Friday and will be looking for a third consecutive victory over the Auckland side in as many years.
The Bulls only managed one victory on tour in 2013, incidentally against the Blues in their first match of their overseas leg of that year, while the three-time Super Rugby champions claimed a comprehensive 38-22 win in Pretoria in 2014.
"A lot of things have changed for both sides since then, but we got that monkey off our back (in 2013) and it is about how we won on that day," Ludeke said.
"We were really accurate. Our set-pieces, our defence was first-class and they came with everything that day, but we held our ground."
With only two Super Rugby victories for the Blues this season, it is tempting to predict that the Bulls would be guaranteed a bonus-point victory to kick-off the tour, but Ludeke was dismissive of such optimism.
"Obviously the first one (tour match) is the big one. We would like to start well and we are playing against a side that if you give them ideal possession, they are a handful," he said.
"We take it game by game and we respect them too much to say that we target (these games).
"They are our next step on our Super Rugby journey and we are on tour playing the Blues at home, (a team) with a huge history behind them."
The Bulls’ touring record is nothing to boast about, with the Pretoria side winning only one of their last eight matches in Australasia.
Asked about the prospects on the rest of the tour that include matches against the Chiefs and Brumbies before ending against a resurgent Rebels outfit, Ludeke asked to have that question posed at a later stage.
He went onto say that playing away from home would allow his charges to form a tighter bond, which he felt was advantageous heading into the business end of the season and aid in his team's quest to improve every week, provided they keep producing the results.
Ludeke said the team had a more settled look to it compared to last year’s tour, considering that only 12 players experienced their first tour with the Bulls.
The Bulls open their four-week tour in Auckland on Friday at 09:35.