Pretoria - Former Bulls No 8 Pierre Spies believes the current team can break their losing duck in New Zealand.
It’s been five years since the Bulls have won a Super Rugby match in New Zealand and they face a tough task over the next two weekends when they tackle the Chiefs in Hamilton(Friday, March 16) and Crusaders in Christchurch (Saturday, March 23).
The Bulls have only once beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch - way back in 1996 when they still played as Northern Transvaal.
The contest against the Crusaders intrigues Spies as he believes it will be a real test of the character for his former team.
Spies has spent a fair bit of time playing in some of the most intimidating stadiums in world rugby.
And as he spent quality time with his sons at last weekend’s Vodacom Red Father and Son Sleepout on the main field at Loftus Versfeld, the aura around this stadium made him consider the challenge the Bulls will face in Christchurch.
“It’s difficult to speak about the experience of playing there in theory. I mean, look at Loftus which can be very intimidating for visiting teams. I’ve spent so much time at Loftus and I know the field inside out, but at the Vodacom Red Father and Son Sleepout it was still amazing for me to experience it. Taking my kids there and taking them through the corridors and into the changerooms and then sleeping on the field was an amazing experience,” Spies said.
“In Christchurch, the players need to believe in themselves. If you believe in your team-mates, your systems and your coach then anything is possible.”
Spies is confident the Bulls are on the right track under new coach John Mitchell.
“The Bulls have a very talented side and they have a very good coach in John Mitchell. They are a young team in many aspects, but there is a lot of talent there and this will be a good testing ground for them.
“But they’ve got nothing to lose. They’ll go into the Crusaders match as underdogs, which is perfect because it will take the pressure off them. They should just go and play to their abilities.”
Friday’s clash against the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium is scheduled for 08:35 (SA time).
15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13
Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Fa'auli, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Tiaan
Falcon, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan
Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Nathan
Harris, 1 Aidan Ross
Substitutes: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Karl
Tu'inukuafe, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Luke Jacobson,
21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Declan O'Donnell
Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal
(captain), 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hanro
Liebenberg, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG
Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman
16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Jason
Jenkins/Tim Agaba, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie
Libbok, 23 Johnny Kotze