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    Pollard, Bulls to 'loosen the shackles'

    2017-03-15 20:04
    Handre Pollard in despondent mood at Saturday night’s post-match press-conference... (Gallo Images)

    Pretoria - The Bulls, winless in 2017, could do with a dose of confidence. 

    That will hopefully come this Friday night when they host the Sunwolves at Loftus. 

    The Bulls have lost two from two so far this season after coming unstuck against the Stormers in Cape Town and then the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, while the Sunwolves have lost all three of their matches so far. 

    It certainly hasn't been the start to the season that coach Nollis Marais would have wanted, and with a tour to New Zealand and fixtures against the Blues and Chiefs around the corner, Friday's clash against the lowly Sunwolves represents the perfect opportunity for the Pretoria-based franchise to get their season moving in the right direction.

    "We really worked hard. There was no lack of effort from the guys. We just weren't clinical enough and made too many mistakes," Bulls captain Handre Pollard said of his side's start to the season.

    "This is a great opportunity for myself personally and for the team to get some confidence, loosen the shackles and just go play some rugby and enjoy ourselves and express ourselves." 

    Pollard has struggled to find any rhythm in the two matches he has played since missing the entire 2016 season with injury, but he feels like he is getting better all the time.

    "I've got high standards. I really push myself to be the best that I can be for the team every time," he said.

    "Of course I can play better; I'm also making mistakes at the moment.

    "I think I made an improvement in the Cheetahs game from the Stormers game where I wasn't good enough. There is always room for improvement."

    The Bulls are also boosted by the return of Jan Serfontein in midfield while former Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss will play off the bench. 

    "They bring a lot of calmness," Pollard said.

    "Adriaan has got 130-odd caps and Jan has got almost 50. Those guys have played at the highest level and they automatically bring a calmness into the squad and I think that's something we can really use."

    Friday night's match kicks off at 19:00.

    Teams:

    Bulls

    15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman

    Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel

    Sunwolves

    15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto

    Substitutes: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka

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