Nine more 'big efforts' for Bulls
Nine more 'big efforts' for BullsSHARE
With the emotion and glitter of their Diamond Jubilee beginning to subside, the Bulls will look to replicate the intensity of last week's win nine more times.
Speaking to this website, ahead of their trip to Port Elizabeth and an encounter with the Kings, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted that the occasion played some role in his team's impressive 26-20 win over the Cheetahs in Pretoria last Saturday.
The win over the Cheetahs was preceded by the unveiling of the Bulls Rugby Exhibit to more than 150 former players – who played a part in the three Super Rugby and 27 Curie Cup titles (four shared) in the last 75 years.
The festivities culminated in a parade of these dignitaries on the field just before kick-off.
It stirred up emotions in Pretoria and the team delivered one of their most compelling performances of the season to get back into the Super Rugby play-off race.
Now they are looking to build on that win in the next nine matches of their campaign.
"It was a special day for Blue Bulls rugby," Ludeke said of the 75th anniversary celebrations.
"While we didn't focus on that [the festivities] during the week, it was good to round it off with a great result.
"Those were guys who did so many good things for the union over many years. They left a big legacy and that made it more special."
Asked about the Bulls' intensity against the Cheetahs, Ludeke said it was something they had worked for the whole season, to ensure they get the right results.
Asked if they will be able to build on that platform as they head to PE and tackle the Kings, Ludeke said it is all about attitude.
"There were a lot of things we brought back from the tour and when we returned we had six home games and four away," he told this website.
"We have played one of our home games now and there are nine games remaining.
"We are determined to be involved in the [play-offs at the] end and that is why every game now is vital.
"There is certainly not a lack of motivation."
He said the players have now had a good taste of the result when they put in a huge effort.
"The systems worked well [against the Cheetahs] and must continue to work well," the coach said, adding: "Our defence was one of the key aspects and at critical stages we finished off our opportunities."
Ludeke pointed to the try by scrumhalf Jano Vermaak just after half-time and the try of replacement hooker Callie Visagie just after the Cheetahs scored their only try.
"The players were switched on and accurate in executing our plans.
"The process is what gives you energy.
"You know those are things that you have done right and things you have worked on every day – we have that belief in our systems."
The Bulls will hope for some more good news on the injury front when they step up their preparation on Wednesday ahead of the trip to Port Elizabeth.
Wing Akona Ndungane (knee strain), scrumhalf Jano Vermaak (hamstring), as well as flanks Deon Stegmann (hamstring) and Jacques Potgieter (groin) will likely train on Wednesday.
Backs Bjorn Basson and Francois Hougaard (both ankle injuries), who were sent back home from tour in Australasia, will also train on Wednesday and could play in PE.
"There is the possibility of players coming back, but we won't know till Wednesday or Thursday," Ludeke said.
"Some of the guys have been at the Bok training camp and we have not seen them. If everybody is fit that we are expecting, it will be a great situation."
The Bulls will play all nine their remaining game in South Africa – the Kings in Port Elizabeth this Saturday, the Waratahs in Pretoria, the Hurricanes in Pretoria, followed by their second bye, the Highlanders in Pretoria, the Sharks in Durban, the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, the Kings in Pretoria, the Sharks in Pretoria and finally the Stormers in Cape Town.
By Jan de Koning