With Boks on each side, Bulls and Stormers prepare for ‘Test’ at Loftus
The Super Rugby opener promises to have all the fireworks and rugby fans are invited to enjoy the ride
With the array of Springbok talent that will be on show during their Super Rugby opener against the Stormers at Loftus on Saturday‚ Bulls captain Lood de Jager expects the clash to have the intensity of a Test match.
Bulls coach Pote Human on Wednesday announced a strong squad consisting of nine Springboks in the starting line-up with one on the bench, while the Stormers are also expected to be heavy with international stars when they name their squad on Thursday.
Human included Warrick Gelant‚ Jesse Kriel‚ Handre Pollard‚ Embrose Papier‚ Duane Vermeulen‚ Lood de Jager‚ Trevor Nyakane‚ Lizo Gqoboka and Schalk Brits, with Ivan van Zyl on the bench.
De Jager said the quality that will be on show will give the game the feel of a Test match. “Yes‚ this match will definitely have a feel of a Test match given the number of Springbok players that will be on show on Saturday from both sides‚” he said at Loftus on Wednesday.
“There are going to be world class players on the field and I am expecting a Test match atmosphere and intensity. This will get the best out of the players and hopefully fans will come in their numbers to support the match‚” he said‚ adding that the match is likely to be decided on set-pieces.
“We have identified that this game is probably going to be a set-piece battle like most SA derbies. We are expecting a good scrum from them and we must have a good plan for that and the line-out is also going to be interesting because they have good jumpers.
“In response‚ our line-out forwards must also be on top of their game.”
As a vital cog of the Bulls line-out‚ De Jager is aware that he will be targeted by the Stormers and he is ready for battle.
“They have talented players and they will have a strong lineout‚ which means we must be ready for a challenging set-piece. They are coming here with a point to prove.
“I was once a youngster trying to outgun the senior opposition players and their younger players in the line-outs will be gunning for me.”
Human said after weeks of preparation since he was confirmed as coach to replace John Mitchell‚ they are ready to start the season where they will be judged by at least reaching the play-offs for the first time in more than six years.
“I am happy with the preparation for this season‚ there are 10 Boks in this team, which is awesome to have, but still guys have to go out there and perform for the rest of the season.
“If you play against the Stormers at Loftus or in Cape Town there is no motivation needed and I am sure that all the guys are motivated to go out there and show their skills.”