Bulls chasing a 'perfect game'
Jan de Koning chatted to Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe about their second match on tour - against the Highlanders on Friday.
The Bulls may have hit a speed bump in their charge towards a possible play-off spot, but the men from Pretoria still have that goal firmly in their sights.
Their loss to the Hurricanes last week showed up a few flaws in their make-up and captain Flip van der Merwe said those were put under the microscope this week - as they prepared for another brutal arm-wrestle against a New Zealand team.
The Bulls head to Dunedin where they will take on the Highlanders in the competition's only indoor stadium on Friday.
Currently in sixth place on 17 points, the men from Pretoria know they can't afford another defeat - with three teams (Lions, Hurricanes and Blues) just a point behind (although the latter two have a bye this week), while the Highlanders are the real threat in 10th place (on 15 points).
The Bulls skipper, Van der Merwe said that win or lose, they will always back their systems.
"We are still chasing that perfect game," Van der Merwe said in a teleconference call from the team's training base in the holiday resort of Queenstown on the New Zealand South Island.
"We took out the good and the bad from last week's game [the 20-25 loss to the Hurricanes] and worked on that this week. We are working on improving the good aspects of our game and eliminating the bad aspects."
He felt that on tour lot of the focus is on the mental aspects of the game - to avoid the guys getting into the tourist trap of things and rather focus on the rugby aspects.
He said that while the short six-day turnaround - they played the Hurricanes last Saturday and now face the Highlanders this Friday - could sometimes be a little more taxing on the body, it will not affect them.
"We have become so advance in touring that whether we play at home [Pretoria] or play in Dunedin it is the same," Van der Merwe said.
"We have two days of brilliant training behind us and I feel the guys are looking pretty strong for the weekend."
He also dismissed the suggestion that the high tackle count from last week, when the Bulls made almost 200 tackles, would cause problems.
He suggested that when touring in New Zealand you will always be forced to make more tackles, Kiwi teams retain the ball a lot more.
"They certainly don't kick it away or gift you possession," the captain said.
By Jan de Koning