We can't talk for the Brumbies
The Bulls may be at the back end of an arduous month-long Australasian tour, but with the right attitude they can end on a high.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, speaking ahead of their tour finale against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday, said the team remains "positive" - despite defeats in their last two outings.
After an impressive start to the four-match expedition, when they smashed the Blues in Auckland, the Bulls were outplayed by a determined Crusaders outfit and then edged by the Reds in a heartbreaking loss last week when a sliver of grass with white chalk on it touched the boot of utility back JJ Engelbrecht to deny the tourists a famous match-winning try.
Ludeke admitted the Jake White-coached Brumbies will be on par with the most demanding of matches on tour, despite having to travel back from Cape Town where their unbeaten run was ended by the Stormers last week.
However, he felt it was more important for his team to focus on their own game, rather than worry if the Australian conference leaders will be affected by travel fatigue.
"It is more important what our attitude is going to be and the intensity we will take into the game," Ludeke said from the team's base in Canberra.
"We can't talk for the Brumbies," the Bulls mentor said, adding: "We have our own [game] plan and obviously we would like to be accurate in how we execute it this coming weekend."
He said there are some areas from last week where they would like to step up.
"We have to focus on ourselves. We can control the opposition, what their mindset is and how they travel. We must be ready for anything and we are looking forward to this game."
Ludeke said they prefer to get the Australasian tour out of the way early in the season, as it is good for team unity.
"It allows us to sort a few issues out and get combinations right," the coach said, adding: "Our approach has not changed at all and we have this weekend remaining and looking forward to the contest against the Brumbies.
"We were very positive before the tour, that we would be successful and get good results. We had a good game against the Blues, then ran into a determined Crusaders side and came close [against the Reds] this past weekend.
"We have one match remaining on tour and we are positive."
The Bulls mentor admitted it will require a concerted 80-minute effort to overcome the Brumbies, something that probably cost them the game last week - when they only played to their full potential in the latter stages of the game.
"We were close in the end [against the Reds], but it wasn't good enough. We should have created more opportunities to get our attack going. We do have the ability to score brilliant tries and that will definitely be something we will look at."
Asked about going up against the World Cup-winning former Bok coach, Jake White, Ludeke said the game is about the players - not the coaches.
"Jake and I have been friends for many years," the Bulls mentor said.
"I have a lot of respect for him, he did a fantastic job when he coached South Africa.
"However, the team that will deserve it this weekend will be the team that produces the best 80-minute effort.
"I don't feel it is the coaches, it is the players on the field on the day that make the calls and make things happen."
He said that White has a good understanding of the Bulls and they will be ready for this weekend.
"I don't think you can predict beforehand what will happen," he said, when asked if he is expecting anything different from the Brumbies.
"It is about decision-making on the field.
"It will again be the battle of the gainline. All teams would like to have go-forward, quick ball - that is the type of ball you can score tries from."
By Jan de Koning