Bulls coach Pote Human fires rallying cry to his troops
Team urged to pick up the baton after injured captain Lood de Jager is ruled out for the season
Bulls coach Pote Human has fired a rallying cry to his troops to pick up the baton in Super Rugby and fight for the jersey in the absence of injured captain Lood de Jager.
A shoulder injury has ruled the vastly experienced Springbok lock out of action for the rest of the season and he had surgery this week.
But Human urged his players to step up to the plate and grab the opportunity with both hands in De Jager’s absence.
“He [De Jager] is a world class player‚ a lineout expert and an overall good rugby player but it is the best for him to sort this injury out and get it right before the World Cup.
“It is a huge loss for us but at the same time it has opened doors for other guys to raise their hands‚” he said on Wednesday when announcing the squad to face the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday.
The Bulls welcome the Sharks having won two of their three opening matches and Human has challenged his players to maintain consistency as they continue with the mission to qualify for the play-offs for first time in more than six years.
“The way we played against the Stormers and the Lions recently is the way we want to play and we want to continue in that vein.
“The Sharks have a very good pack and they will try to pressurise us up front because they have players who can dictate the game. We know how they play and what their weak and strong points are‚ so we will see on Saturday.”
Stand-in captain Handrè Pollard echoed the sentiments of his coach as he elaborated on the importance of consistency.
“The fact that most of the games this season have been closely contested shows that you need consistency. You can’t afford to be up and down with your performances because everybody is striving for a good solid run.
“It is 14 teams out there going hard at each other every weekend and it is the toughest competition in the world. You have to get consistency right otherwise you are going to struggle‚” said Pollard.
Human said that for them to prevail against the Sharks‚ they must produce a defensive performance similar to or better than their display against the Lions last week where they comfortably won 30-12 in Johannesburg.
“We concentrate hard on our defence during preparations because we know very well it is an area that can win you championships. At this stage I am proud of the commitment and the attitude that has been shown by the players.”
Human has made a few changes to the team that beat the Lions with Ivan van Zyl replacing Embrose Papier at scrumhalf in the backline.
Tim Agaba joins the loose trio at No7 while Hanro Liebenberg has been shifted to lock to replace Eli Snyman.
Jannes Kirsten has taken the No6 jersey from Ruan Steenkamp and Jason Jenkins moves to No5.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant‚ 14 Cornal Hendricks‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Dylan Sage‚ 11 Rosko Specman‚ 10 Handré Pollard (captain)‚ 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen‚ 7 Tim Agaba‚ 6 Jannes Kirsten‚ 5 Jason Jenkins‚ 4 Hanro Liebenberg‚ 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Schalk Brits‚ 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Corniel Els‚ 17 Simphiwe Matanzima‚ 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen‚ 19 Thembelani Bholi‚ 20 Paul Schoeman‚ 21 Embrose Papier‚ 22 Manie Libbok‚ 23 Divan Rossouw