Force keen on some Bulls beef

Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:04
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With the stinging barbs of Jacques Potgieter still ringing in their ears, the Bulls now face another former teammate with a point to prove.

With the stinging barbs of Jacques Potgieter still ringing in their ears, the Bulls now face another former teammate with a point to prove.

Potgieter, after being a key player in the Waratahs' win over the Bulls in Sydney at the weekend, was not holding back and gave his former teammates a good send-off.

"I will say Australian teams have a little bit more skill," Potgieter said in his post-match television interview.

Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe was obviously not impressed.

"I can't say that, we had a lot of scrums from their knock-ons so you can't really say they're more skilful," was the Bulls skipper's retort.

However, lurking in the shadows is Wilhelm Steenkamp - a player who collected 30-odd Super Rugby caps with the Bulls and captained them at age-group level.

Steenkamp, like Potgieter, is one of 20-odd senior players who departed Pretoria in the last two years.

While they all departed with the "blessings" of the Bulls management, Steenkamp was obviously frustrated at not getting a regular starting spot in Pretoria - which is what has been afforded him in Perth.

While Steenkamp has, so far, been quiet about his face-off with the Bulls, veteran Force prop Kieran Longbottom made no secret of the fact that they are keen to get hold of some Bulls beef.

The Force, fresh from the disappointing loss to the Rebels at the weekend which ended a five-match winning streak, are determined to remain in the play-off race.

Currently in fifth place, four points and positions ahead of the Bulls, Saturday's encounter in Perth will be crucial to both teams.

"They're a big pack with big boys, they've always been that way," Longbottom said, when asked at a media briefing for his thoughts on the Bulls.

"But we've just got to meet that challenge and front up physically."

One of the Force's biggest concerns centres around the scrums, where they had a torrid time against the Rebels last week.

Longbottom, who is set to play his 50th Super Rugby game for the Western Force, felt they could cope with whatever the Bulls throw at them.

"I'm going to put it down to an off week," the born-and-bred West Australian said about the encounter with the Rebels.

"It's nothing we can't fix in a week. All we've got to do is pull tight as an eight [eight-man pack] and work harder together and we will get a better result."

Longbottom admitted the Bulls' scrum will be a different animal to what they encountered in Melbourne last week.

"You just need to have that adaptability to counter it on the day, attack it and deal with it," admitting that SA teams always have massive scrums.

"It is a good challenge, because we can really focus our minds on it. We know it is going to be tough, so we know we have to focus 100 percent - it is a big challenge I know we can bet up for."

Longbottom knows that Steenkamp has a few other South Africans that will be very familiar with the Bulls' style of play - midfielder Marcel Brache, flyhalf Sias Ebersohn and loose forward Brynard Stander.

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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
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Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
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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