Matfield set to lead Bulls
Johannesburg - Springbok veteran Victor Matfield won’t only be back to help the Vodacom Bulls try and save their season this weekend, he’s likely to lead them into battle as well.
According to the superport.com website, Matfield will return from a knee injury that kept him out of action for a month at a crucial stage of the season, and will need to apply both his leadership and experience immediately to a side that has been rocked by the narrow loss to the DHL Stormers last weekend.
So close are things in the South African conference at the moment that the Bulls need to beat the Emirates Lions this weekend if they are to have a hope of making the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs.
If they don’t they may find themselves third in the conference and struggling to make the top six after what could be considered a fairly decent season thus far.
The margins of error seem to be getting smaller between the teams and the Bulls have an uphill struggle as they still need to tour overseas while the other sides have completed their away fixtures for the season.
But as the Bulls always say, they can only take it “week-for-week” and that means winning the contest that they have to face at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
And since Matfield and fellow Bok Jan Serfontein last played for the side they have lost tight contests against the Lions and Stormers, both away from home while grabbing a win in Durban and at home against the Reds.
Every point the Bulls can pick up now will be crucial, hence the decision to rush the Bok lock back into action.
“He’s a crucial part of our game and our decision-making and leadership, and what he brings to the game as well, so it’s good to have him back,” coach Frans Ludeke said on Matfield’s return.
Matfield will also lead the side as Pierre Spies is under the weather and is set to be rested this week. Deon Stegmann will also be on the sidelines this weekend, meaning a new loose trio will be chosen.
Ludeke is likely to keep Jacques du Plessis at 7, with the hard-working duo of Arno Botha and Lappies Labuschagne being inserted at 8 and 6 respectively.
Trevor Nyakane will likely be at loosehead prop, with Dean Greyling paying for his indiscretions at the scrum this past weekend, while Serfontein will hopefully be back at inside centre.
The Bok midfielder has been included in the team in the last two weeks, only to withdraw on both occasions, first with a hip flexor, and then in Cape Town with a hamstring strain but the Bulls are hopeful this week he will be fine.
“I’m confident he will make it this week. He has had a great two weeks, only to pull up on the final day and credit to him as well that he sacrificed the opportunity to play. He’s not a selfish player, he wants the best for the team and hopefully this weekend he will be fine,” Ludeke explained.
The Bulls coach says while Burger Odendaal has done a fine job standing in for Serfontein, the Bok has always been first in the pecking order and it was an easy decision to choose him.
“I must say it’s an easy decision. We need all of them, it’s about good communication and backing Jan also – he has done a good job for us. And then it is about playing for the team – horses for courses – and who we are going to need going forward. This weekend it is vital for Jan to come in and do what he does. He has a huge workrate and is solid on defence, those are the things that we need him to do.”
The Bulls will announce their team on Thursday.