Spotlight on Stormers, Bulls as SA sides start Super Rugby charge
Cape Town - The Bulls and the Stormers will take centre stage from a South African perspective when the country's Super Rugby journey kicks off on Saturday evening.
While the Bulls are starting a new era under the leadership of coach Pote Human, the Stormers are under their own pressures to make a play deep into the tournament with coach Robbie Fleck entering the final year of his contract at Newlands.
The signings of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits have been highly-publicised for the Bulls, who will field 10 Springboks on Saturday, but the Stormers also have a strong squad on paper and they are backing themselves to get the job done in one of South Africa's most highly-anticipated derbies.
"It's the Bulls at Loftus and there is no bigger game
for Stormers fans and players," Fleck said in the week.
"We're starting off with one of the tougher ones away.
They have quality in their side and some experience now which I feel they
didn't have last year.
"With the likes of Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen and
Schalk Brits, that will help the younger players in the group."
Fleck is also expecting the Bulls under Human to have a more traditional feel to them after previous coaches Nollis Marais and John Mitchell prioritised running rugby.
"Pote has got some old school Bulls values and I think
he treasures the set piece and the maul and I think he still encourages a good
kicking game," Fleck explained.
"I think the traditional side of the Bulls is still there but what
they gained from last year with Mitch taking over they got an extra dynamic in
their attacking play.
"That was quite evident in the way they played against us
in the Currie Cup. I think Pote has brought a nice balance to their game and I
think that suits their players."
The Sharks, meanwhile, are in Singapore for their tournament opener against the Sunwolves while the Lions will take on the Jaguares in Argentina.
SA fixtures on Saturday:
12:55 - Sunwolves v Sharks
17:15 - Bulls v Stormers
23:40 - Jaguares v Lions