Samoa vs Scotland
Golden Lions vs Griquas

Bulls defend their breakdown tactics

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:52
Large jono ross bulls2

The Bulls stood firm in the face of criticism over their persistence with the tactics of playing Jono Ross as the team's openside flank.

The Bulls stood firm in the face of criticism over their persistence with the questionable tactics of playing Jono Ross as the team's openside flank.

Ross, who has been far more effective at No.8 than on the flank, fulfilled the openside role in the 20-27 loss to the Highlanders last week - a move that came in the wake of the tour-ending groin injury suffered by specialist openside Deon Stegmann

The statistics from the game suggest that the move was not a success - with Ross involved five carries, from which he made just nine metres; he conceded one turnover and two penalties, while he made nine tackles and missed four.

However, both Bulls coach Frans Ludeke and captain Flip van der Merwe felt that the breakdown issues should not be laid at Ross' door.

Despite the unbalance appearance of the loose forward combination - Grant Hattingh (more of a lock) playing at No.8, Jacques du Plessis as blindside flank and Ross, a specialist No.8 playing at openside - Ludeke is adamant that it is working for the Bulls.

"There is the bigger picture," Ludeke said in a teleconference call from the team's base in Sydney - where they are preparing for their Round 10 encounter with the Waratahs on Saturday.

He admitted that people would "zoom in" on the loose forwards with good reason.

"You have to ask what: 'What can your loose forwards bring for you?'

"Obviously you need a ball carrier and you need a guy who can be effective when the team plays forward and when the team goes backwards, given that a No.8 has a specific function in our side.

"We are confident Grant [Hattingh] can do that. He has been there, he is good under the high ball and he links well between the forwards and the backs.

"On the blindside Jacques du Plessis has been effective. He has had the most ball carries, he is effective on defence and in how he applies himself.

"I know there are a lot of questions about our openside [selection of Jono Ross].

"If you look at Jono Ross' workrate, one area we are looking at is how he can have a bigger effect on the breakdown, especially on defence at the breakdown. In changing that, it is just small details - it is a matter of time then he will have a bigger effect.

"It is [about making] smart decisions and not giving away silly penalties. It is more important than chasing something [a turnover], while trying to make an impact. However, his allround game, his workrate in terms of cleaning, applying himself and knowing the system there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

"We are backing him there."

Ludeke admitted that Wimpie van der Walt, who joined the team last week as a replacement for Stegmann, would come into consideration next week.

"He [Van der Walt] is now in his first week of full training," the Bulls mentor said, adding: "Last week he was so jet-lagged, so hopefully next week he can be an option as well for us.

"However, we are happy with Jono Ross and we are chasing the breakdown to make sure we have a bigger impact there."

The skipper, Van der Merwe, also defended Ross and said there are other players in the team that can also make an impact at the breakdown.

"That [the breakdown] is one area where you can train [to be more effective]," Can der Merwe said in a teleconference call from Sydney.

"It is an area we concentrated on this week as well. We wanted to get our body positions lower at the breakdown and get everyone involved at the breakdown."

He said the breakdown is not just one player's responsibility, it is an aspect for all 15 players to focus on.

"You have guys like Werner Kruger and Callie Visagie who are very good at competing at the breakdown as well," the captain said.

"You want to give them the opportunities to get turnovers at the breakdown.

"You need double-hit tackles that drive the opposition backwards and let the other guys get stuck in there. It has been good all year, but it is an area where we need to step up this weekend."

By Jan de Koning

Samoa vs Scotland
sast: 15h30 | local: 17h30

  • 26 | 23
Golden Lions vs Griquas
sast: 16h00 | local: 18h00

  • 7 | 7
Sat, 10 October 2015
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h00 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 34 | 34
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26