THE Bulls are gearing themselves up for one of their better Super Rugby Australasian tours of recent years when they go Down Under next week.
It has been a downward spiral for the Pretoria side on their overseas voyages over the past three seasons. In 2012 Frans Ludeke’s side won half of their overseas fixtures. The following year they only managed one win in four games, while last season they returned home winless after four defeats.
Captain Pierre Spies believes his troops are a different outfit to the previous three seasons.
Following an exodus of senior players and crucial long-term injuries, the Bulls were forced into a rebuilding stage where the side was largely inexperienced with only a few players familiar with the trip Down Under.
"The change of personnel, since we were struggling from so many injuries in the past few seasons, has been one of the major differences this season," Spies conceded from the Springbok training camp on Tuesday.
"This is also the first season where we have more experienced players. A guy like Handre Pollard is a year older. Burger Odendaal and Jesse Kriel have grown and gained experience, so have many others. We are a much different side to what we were in the past. We can surely improve this season."
If there was a season to turn around the woes of the past few seasons, it would be now. The Bulls are in a better space, in terms of form as well as their log standings, than they have been in recent times ahead of their Australasian expedition.
"We have been chuffed with how we have been playing, but it is still a work in progress. We seem to be gaining good momentum," Spies said.
"We’ve been good. I believe we have enough talent to go all the way. It’s great to be able to make a special impact in such a special team. We all try to bring out the best in each other."
Spies looked back at his side’s season so far with a twinkle in his eye but also ruing the narrow defeats they have suffered four times in 11 matches.
The Bulls get to rest this weekend with a welcome bye before they depart for New Zealand on Sunday to prepare for their first match of the tour against the Blues next week.
The Pretoria side will draw motivation from the performances of some South African teams who have done well on tour this season, particularly the Lions, who won three of four tour matches.
"In a few games we have been unlucky. I think we are lying in a good position at the moment going into our away tour.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show what we can do. We know it will be a tough tour, but we will be giving it our all," said Spies.