David Kriel of the Blue Bulls tries to evade a tackle from Werner Kok of the Sharks in the Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on September 11 2021. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES
David Kriel of the Blue Bulls tries to evade a tackle from Werner Kok of the Sharks in the Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on September 11 2021. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES

The Bulls have shown their United Rugby Championship (URC) intent in high-intensity training sessions as they prepare to open their campaign against Irish powerhouses Leinster at Lansdowne Road in Dublin on Saturday.

Jake White’s men face a baptism of fire against four-time European Champions Cup winners Leinster in the opening round.

The 22-year-old David Kriel, though, said the Bulls are bristling with confidence before their keenly awaited clash, and  the giants of rugby from Pretoria are ready for what’s in store for them from SA rugby’s new venture in the northern hemisphere.

“We are Currie Cup champions,” said fullback Kriel. “We own it and we know we’re a championship side. We’re ready for what’s coming.”

It’s a mouth-watering kickoff to this new competition as the Bulls meet a team that has dominated European rugby.

Kriel said the Bulls are a winning combination built in SA’s competitive domestic rugby environment and it won’t be easy for any side to break them down.

“We’ve been playing consistently good rugby at home, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t gel on Saturday, regardless of who the opposition is,” he said.

The Pretoria outfit, though, still have the memory of their humbling defeat against Benetton in June’s Rainbow Cup final in Italy.

“This is another opportunity to build on what we learnt against Benetton,” Kriel said. “Everybody saw that game and it wasn’t our best performance.

“We didn’t play like the championship side we are. But we took that as a stepping stone for growth in our game plan and also as a team.

“The United Rugby Championship will be challenging but that can only be good for our squad and the rugby we’re playing.”

Bulls touring squad:

Forwards: Lizo Gqoboka; Simphiwe Matanzima; Gerhard Steenekamp; Mornay Smith; Jacques van Rooyen; Robert Hunt; Bismarck du Plessis; Jan Hendrik Wessels; Joe van Zyl; Sidney Tobias; Schalk Erasmus; Walt Steenkamp; Sintu Manjezi; Reinhardt Ludwig; Ruan Nortje; Janko Swanepoel; Arno Botha; Marcell Coetzee; Jacques du Plessis; Muller Uys; Elrigh Louw; WJ Steenkamp

Backs: Zak Burger; Embrose Papier; Marco Jansen van Vuren; Keagan Johannes; Johan Goosen; Chris Smith; Cornal Hendricks; Harold Vorster; Lionel Mapoe; Stedman Gans; Kurt-Lee Arendse; Madosh Tambwe; Stravino Jacobs; Ruan Combrinck; David Kriel

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