'Wet weather' Bulls plan for set piece battle

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:20

BIG NORTH-SOUTH DERBY: The extraordinary amount of rain to have hit Gauteng this week, proved to be an unwanted distraction for the Bulls.

However, given the challenge that awaits them at Newlands on Saturday, in the form of a motivated Stormers team, they had no choice but to remain focused on the job at hand.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais, speaking to rugby365 ahead of the season-opener in Cape Town, said he feels it will be a "massive set-piece battle" at Newlands.

"We haven't won at Newlands since 2011, so victory is a big issue for us," Marais said.

"We know how tough the Stormers are at home, but if we execute the things that we worked on in training it will be a big opportunity [to break that duck]."

He said the wet weather - which caused flooding - did not help their preparations.

He admitted the temptation was there to make adjustments in training for the weather, but because Saturday will be hot and dry in Cape Town they stuck to their guns.

"We continued to focus on how we want to play Saturday, despite the rainy conditions," he told rugby365.

"We paid attention to the things we can control, our own game.

"Yes, there were more errors [in training], but our focus was on what we want to do Saturday."

Although the Bulls would have like another warm-up match, Marais said the risk of injuries meant they settled for the pre-season hit-out against a young Lions team and the trip to Australia - where they beat the Chiefs in Brisbane and lost to the same Chiefs team in the semifinals of a 10s tournament.

"Based on that [15-a-side] game against the Chiefs [in Brisbane] I feel we are on the right track," the Bulls mentor said.

He added that in terms of injuries they are in a much better position than last year.

"[In 2016] we started the season with a host of serious injuries," he old rugby365, adding: "On top of that, in the next three weeks we will also get players like [captain] Adriaan [Strauss, back surgery], Jannes [Kirsten, shoulder surgery] and Arno [Botha, shoulder surgery] back from injury.

"Jan Serfontein [the Bok centre missing the trip to Cape Town] will also be back next week."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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