The Bulls will now win four Super Rugby titles, and no other South African team has won one.
SOME matches may have been affected and even cancelled by Covid-19, but Bulls director of rugby Jake White has called on his players to also enjoy the fact that they will be crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champions on Saturday.
Only a miracle can stop Duane Vermeulen from lifting the brand-new trophy at Loftus – the Pumas will have to win by 43 points and deny the Bulls a bonus point in order for the Stormers to be declared the winners.
Some critics may argue that the Bulls’ achievement has been sullied by the fact that three matches – Lions versus Cheetahs, Lions versus Pumas and Sharks versus Stormers – were called off due to positive Covid-19 tests, while some teams have also had to leave out key players for the same reason.
The Bulls, though, have been largely unaffected, with only Morné Steyn not featuring this week after being exposed to someone with Covid-19. “It is always great to win! It’s like a Six Nations and it is a short tournament, and we have beaten the two teams closest to us by far.
“So, it’s not about feeling sorry or shy – it’s lekker to win,” White said yesterday after naming a team with four changes to the starting line-up for the Pumas clash.
“We all knew it’s a short tournament, and you had to hit the ground running and win some games.
“We have taken the first step, and have to build on it, as it’s not just the Currie Cup coming up, but also PRO Rugby next year.
“Apparently, there is going to be a trophy presentation (after the match). The Bulls will now win four Super Rugby titles, and no other South African team has won one.
“It was the same rules and games for everybody, and we got bonus points against the next two strongest teams, the Stormers and Sharks.
“We need to keep growing as a group and enjoy the fact that we are winning.
“The players must appreciate that, and we’ve got to keep working hard.”
With Steyn out of the mix, former Maties and Pumas pivot Chris Smith will wear the No 10 jersey, while Arno Botha is back at blindside flank for the injured Elrigh Louw.
Jason Jenkins has returned to his Japanese club Toyota Verblitz, which sees Ruan Nortjé partnering Walt Steenkamp in the second row. The final change is at hooker, where Corniel Els is favoured as Johan Grobbelaar is injured.
“Corniel played really well off the bench the other day, and has taken his chance,” White said. “He is probably a little more experienced for this game, in terms of the line-out, so we thought we’d give him a start and see if he can add some value as a senior guy, as he is a bit older than the other hookers.”
Meanwhile, Tafel Lager Griquas travel to Bloemfontein for their last round fixture against the Toyota Cheetahs at Toyota Stadium at 4.30pm on Saturday.
The Cheetahs will be looking to burn off some frustration after their game against the Lions was called off at the last minute due to Covid-19 clusters. But in Kimberley Griquas very nearly beat the Sharks were it not for alast-minute penalty by Curwin Bosch.
Griquas head coach, Scott Mathie, told the DFA that they realised what was waiting for them from their Central Region neighbours. “We are under no illusions of what awaits us in Bloemfontein as we have struggled there in the last few years with their quick rucks and the way they move the ball around and play with a lot of energy and tempo.
“But we will be prepared for that as we need to make sure that we get our width in our defence and that we bring the same energy intensity to the tackles that we made against the Sharks,” he said.
“I think it’s important we build on our performance with the set piece, and we really make sure that we win the big moments in the end during the match. I think we are ready that we want some of those big moments that we had in the Sharks game but then just let it slip at the end,” the coach added.
“However, it’s important that we learn from those mistakes and correct them for the weekend as we are looking forward to this derby and this opportunity”, the coach concluded.
Additional reporting by Dave Alexander