Anyone wanting to lift the Carling Currie Cup must first knock down the imposing walls at “Fortress Loftus”‚ says Bulls coach Jake White.
The Bulls have to negotiate a tricky semifinal against the Lions on Saturday before hosting the winner of the Western Province-Sharks showdown at Newlands.
Success has been elusive for the Bulls in recent years‚ and if they can subdue the Lions‚ Loftus will host a final for the first time in more than a decade.
With an unbeaten home record at Loftus, the mood in the Bulls camp is that the men in blue can go all the way.
Under inspirational skipper Duane Vermeulen‚ the Bulls have been a tough nut to crack in both Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup.
“The big thing now is we have to win‚” White said. “We have an opportunity to win the last two games of the season.
“We worked incredibly hard to reach the playoffs and if we can beat the Lions in the semifinal‚ we’ll have a home final at Loftus.
“If you think where we came from eight months ago‚ we were nowhere. We lost six straight games in Super Rugby Unlocked and a year ago we finished seventh in the Currie Cup.
“Now we must use the positive energy around the team. We have a big chance to win the Currie Cup‚ playing at home where we haven’t lost. It’s up to us now to ensure we don’t lose that record,” White said.
Meanwhile‚ Sharks coach Sean Everitt is confident they will be able to fulfil their semifinal duties against Western Province on Saturday.
“I am extremely confident as far as Covid is concerned‚” Everitt said. “The players have really tried hard and isolated themselves at home. I believe the Bulls‚ Lions and Province are in the same boat.
“Nobody wants to lose the opportunity to play in a semi and possibly a final. We can only control what we can control and, as we stand now‚ we will have a full team to select from this week.
“All of our results from testing have come back negative‚ so we have been able to get the show on the road and prepare really well. We have shown that when we are able to pick our best team‚ that team does perform,” said Everitt.
“We had a break before we played the Bulls at Kings Park and the guys adjusted really well and came back strongly. I expect the same this week.
“Obviously‚ your rhythm does get disrupted when you don’t play. It depends on how different teams train. We have trained in a 15 vs 15 format‚ so there is a bit of game practice.
“Our guys are raring to go. We have got some good players returning from isolation and a good squad to select from.
“That motivates the players and keeps them positive,” the Sharks coach said.
The dates of the semifinals and final were moved out by a week as a precautionary measure to ensure tournament integrity and allow the participants to manage Covid-19 challenges.
With defending champions the Cheetahs dropping out at the conclusion of the pool stage‚ a new Currie Cup champion will be crowned this season.
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