Bulls not underestimating Pumas
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has warned his team not to take the Pumas lightly ahead of their Currie Cup Premier Division sixth round clash at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday.
The Bulls go into the clash against the Pumas full of confidence after recording a 31-17 victory against the Golden Lions in Pretoria last week, which was their third win from five games in this year's tournament.
Last weekend, the Pumas lost their fourth game on the trot with a 22-25 defeat against the Boland Cavaliers.
However, even though the Bulls head into this game as big favourites, Marais reminded his team of the difficulties which they had in overcoming the less fancied Eastern Province Kings in Pretoria three weeks back.
"I think if you look at how we played in the beginning of the season, the Kings came here [Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria] and gave us 35 points points [Bulls won 49-35], so for us we know that the smaller unions can give you a good game," said Marais.
Marais added that the Pumas have plenty of individual talent who have the ability to trouble the Bulls defence if they are given the opportunity on Saturday.
"We don't underestimate them [Pumas]. A lot of those players have played for me, so I know how tough it's going to be and we won't underestimate them.
"We know they are going to be up for the challenge - they lost one or two games which they shouldn't have lost and they are going to be a very difficult side. If we are going to make it easier for them, it will be a very long evening," explained Marais.
Marais further added that the players need no reminding of last year's visit to Nelspruit which ended in a nerve wrecking 25-24 victory to the Bulls.
"If you look at how we played last year there [Nelspruit], we were ahead in a scrappy match and we won there. It wasn't a good match and I think the guys know that to go there will be difficult.
"It's going to be a tough trip for us. The guys know it and there are a lot of things inside the team which we are trying to fix, but we are concentrating on certain things which we want to do better and if we do that we will get more consistency and then it doesn't matter who we play," said Marais.
Bulls captain Arno Botha was ruled out of this weekend's clash with the Pumas after dislocating his shoulder during the match against the Lions last week. No.8 Hanro Liebenberg takes over the captain's armband for this clash and he will be supported in the back row by flanks Nic de Jager and Ruan Steenkamp.
Liebenberg added that the Bulls forwards will have to make sure that they win the physical contest and the set-piece battle on Saturday.
"They have Renaldo Bothma [Pumas No 8 and captain] and Marnus Schoeman [Pumas flank], they have a few quality players that will be hungry to come out against the Bulls.
"We just have to be physical again, that’s going to be our main focus from the forwards perspective and just to dominate our set-pieces," explained Liebenberg.
By Josh Isaacson