Marais lays down marker for Bulls

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 18:06
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Blue Bulls head coach Nollis Marais has set his team clear objectives to reclaim the Currie Cup trophy, which his side last won in 2009. 

The Bulls open their 2016 Currie Cup Premier Division campaign with a clash against old rivals Western Province in a traditional north-south derby at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Speaking to media in Pretoria on Tuesday, Marais spoke of the confidence which he has in the entire squad as well as the talent which has come through the ranks since last year's Currie Cup tournament.

"If we just go through this side, Pierre Schoeman, Ruan Steenkamp, Arno Botha, Marvin Orie, got a guy like Burger Odendaal so there's a lot of guys that can take ownership which is something that we battled with in the beginning. There's a lot of guys coming through the system who are leaders," said Marais.

Marais further added that the Bulls will be going all out for glory. However, they realise that their opponents will pose a big challenge starting with Western Province on Friday.

"We did well last year. We are expected to do well this year - for us it's winning the cup, that's what we want to do but we will take it game by game. 

"They [Western Province] are always a good side. They can play from anywhere - they are an attacking side. Their set-pieces will be very good and that's something that they've always been good with. They will always be competitive and they played in the Currie Cup Final last year and they got good experienced rugby players," explained Marais.

Marais was full of passion when he explained what the Currie Cup meant to him and his team.

"The Currie Cup is such a huge thing in South Africa. Maybe the qualifiers were something different because there was no cup to play for, but at the end of the day it's still Currie Cup Premier Division, the honour is at stake," said Marais.

Newly appointed captain Arno Botha added that there is a good culture in the team and the players are looking forward to running out onto the field and getting their campaign up and running. 

"I think the guys are excited because there wasn't really a long pre-season. 

"There is a good energy in the team, especially the guys that need to compete for positions.

"Anybody can come into the team, we've got a lot of depth so I think there's a huge excitement for the Currie Cup and the guys are really backing each other," said Botha.

The Bulls finished seventh in the Currie Cup qualifying campaign with 38 points from 14 games which included seven wins and seven defeats. However, they will have several key players available for the Currie Cup Premier Division such as the lock pairing of Marvin Orie and Jason Jenkins and flyhalf Tian Schoeman as well as centre Burger Odendaal who were all unavailable for the qualifying stages due to Super Rugby commitments with the 'first team'. 

By Josh Isaacson

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Sun, 25 September 2016
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Fri, 30 September 2016
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Western Province v Boland 17h10 Cape Town
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Sat, 01 October 2016
Free State Cheetahs v Griquas 12h00 Bloemfontein
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers 13h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Gloucester v Bath 14h00 Kingsholm
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Munster v Zebre 16h00 Thomond Park
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Cardiff Blues v Leinster 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
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Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 7 7 0 0 34
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Sharks 7 5 0 2 25
Western Province 7 4 0 3 23
Golden Lions 7 4 0 3 22
Griquas 7 4 0 3 20
Boland 7 2 0 5 9
Pumas 7 0 0 7 5
EP Kings 7 0 0 7 1