Russell Winter, forwards coach for the Stormers, believes the Bulls will provide precisely the right test for the team in the last pool match of Super Rugby on Saturday to prepare them for the play-offs.
The Stormers have qualified for the quarterfinals and will face either the Chiefs or Hurricanes at Newlands in a fortnight. This Saturday’s meeting at Loftus Versfeld Stadium is pressure-free‚ but the team has been challenged to step up after a sloppy performance against the Sunwolves last weekend.
The Stormers made 35 handling errors and missed 29 tackles while also losing three of their own line-outs. That kind of largesse against the Chiefs or Hurricanes‚ or even the struggling Bulls‚ will be punished.
"We lost three line-outs [against the Sunwolves]‚ which is unacceptable at this stage of the season‚" Winter said.
"I don’t want to blame individuals‚ but we have identified the problem and without giving too much away‚ we will address it. We tried to keep the ball alive against the Sunwolves but too many times we forced the pass when it wasn’t on.
"We don’t want to move away from the style we want to play. We are the fourth highest try-scoring team in the tournament," the coach said.
The beleaguered Bulls will be under pressure to put the season behind them with a stirring performance.
Winter said the Stormers could expect a tough challenge despite the fact that the Bulls had lost 10 matches this season.
"Our forwards will be challenged differently this week and we know that it’s going to be difficult at Loftus‚" Winter said.
"It’s the Bulls’ last home game of the season. It will be a typical old derby and we expect nothing less than a dogfight. That’s what we want as well‚ so we can prepare properly for the quarterfinal and make sure we put all the touches together so we are ready for the play-offs.
"There is no team better than the Bulls for that. When they are on‚ they can beat any team in this tournament.
"This whole season has been a case of changing the way we play by scoring more tries and we won’t move away from that philosophy now."
Centre Juan de Jongh and loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe will be available for selection for Saturday.
De Jongh is back in training after recovering from concussion sustained against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and Notshe has recovered from a knee injury.