The playing resources at the Bulls will be stretched to the limit this weekend as they will be playing on two different continents in the Rainbow Cup and the Currie Cup on Saturday.
The Bulls begin the defence of the Currie Cup against Western Province at Loftus at 4pm and a few hours later their other team will face Benetton Treviso in Italy in the Rainbow Cup final.
Complicating matters for the Bulls is they have injuries to Embrose Papier‚ Arno Botha‚ Elrigh Louw and Duane Vermeulen. And they have to contend with Springbok call-ups to Marco van Staden‚ Trevor Nyakane and Morne Steyn.
There is also the SA U20 camp where the Pretoria side have six players. The tricky situation has forced the coaches to call players from their clubs playing in the Carlton Cup‚ and this also means Pine Pienaar is expected to coach the Currie Cup side.
“We will look into our injuries ... I don’t think we have too many. We will have to wait and see [who] are the best 25‚ 26‚ 27 men going to Italy. And then we are going to have to select from what is left over and what we can get from our Carlton League clubs‚” said Bulls coach Jake White.
While this weekend presents the Bulls with an unusual situation‚ a seemingly unfazed White said they have been planning around it as they expected call-ups to the Springboks and the SA U20 team.
“We have been planning for this for a while now because we knew that we will be short of players‚” he said. “Besides the Springbok [call-ups] and the injuries‚ we have also lost about eight players to the SA U20 camp, which is down in Cape Town. So‚ not only have we lost a couple of Springboks but we have also lost a couple of U20 boys that I obviously would have loved to have as part of that Currie Cup team.
“We have Pine Pienaar‚ who is the technical guy with our squad‚ and he has been working behind the scenes to make sure that he watched a couple of Carlton League games as well.
“We will put a team together and what’s left over from the guys who have been training with us for the past 10 days and we should be OK.”
Looking ahead to their clash with Benetton‚ Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee said he is relishing the responsibility of standing in for injured skipper Vermeulen.
“When the talks were going on for me to come back to the Bulls‚ I could see what was happening from a distance and the camaraderie that’s been built under Jake White and the management team‚ and I wanted to be a part of that‚” he said.
“From the first day I arrived‚ the guys were just exceptional and very welcoming. For me to be part of the Bulls family now is just an honour and a privilege.
“There hasn’t been one negative moment where there isn’t a sense of belief in this team. I quickly picked this up. There is a bigger picture here than just the individual‚ and the group is really focused on that at the moment.
“If you take the rugby they’ve been playing up until now‚ it’s just been local derbies. So there is really a buzz and excitement among the group to measure themselves against opposition from abroad.
“Benetton are looking really good at the moment. They’ve been playing exceptional rugby‚ so we have to be on our guard. We are playing in a final for the Rainbow Cup and we pride ourselves on being a championship side. Now there’s just one hurdle left. But from my side‚ I can see the guys are hungry for this final.”
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