We want a home semi - Spies
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - The Bulls will go all out on their four-week tour of Australasia in their pursuit of a Super Rugby home semi-final, captain Pierre Spies said on Tuesday.
Touring the antipodes is never easy for South African sides and the Bulls will have to plot their way past at least three teams abroad with the Blues, Chiefs, Brumbies and Rebels lying in wait.
The Pretoria side could once again usurp the Stormers from top spot in the local conference with a victory over the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies believed they had the right personnel to return from the tour in a commanding position to still challenge for the title.
“The team we have now is really well-balanced, we’ve played some good rugby this year and I feel we’ve been unlucky with a few results,” Spies said from Auckland.
“We did speak about the bigger picture and we want to be in those semi-finals and earn a home semi, so that is what we are aiming for.
“But it is a week-for-week thing and it is important that we go into this tour with the right mind-set.
It is possible to have a very successful tour and hopefully we can have a good start on Friday.”
Spies said they would take some confidence from their previous encounter in Auckland where they came away with a rare 28-21 victory over the Blues. This was also the last time the Bulls won a match abroad.
“There are a lot of guys in the squad now that has already won at Eden Park so the guys will take some confidence from that and the rest will have to feed off that,” he said.
“We’ve got talented players and we’ve seen that you can win anywhere in the world, so it is important that we do it again come Friday night.”
He said the Bulls would be tested defensively against an attack-minded side but Spies felt they were capable of soaking up the pressure.
“If they (the Blues) can keep the ball in hand they can put a lot of pressure on you, so when they have the ball in hand they can be a very dangerous side,” Spies said.
“I believe we’ve come a long way with our defence, our last game was against the Lions and they put us under a lot of pressure.
“In our defensive system the guys are working really hard and defend for each other. We just need to take that into the game and if we can have a good tackle percentage we can keep the pressure on them when they attack.”
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said although the Blues’ attack was their strong suite they effectively used their set-piece as a springboard.
“It will be a huge battle for both sides to make sure they get quality ball to either exit from their own halves or supply a good platform to attack from,” Ludeke said.
“Their scrum especially really puts pressure on opposition ball and they are really effective on their own ball.”