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Bulls out to dominate

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“It is always nice playing the big games to test yourself and put yourself under pressure”

Marco van Staden of the Bulls is one of the players who will see to it that the Tshwane team do not give up their advantage at the top of the log.

The Bulls are in it for the long haul as they look to tighten their grip on the top spot in the South African Conference over the next two months.

The Pretoria outfit enjoys a tiny one-point lead over the chasing pack in the conference with the Stormers threatening their position in this weekend’s North-South Derby.

Bulls flanker Marco van Staden, who made his long-awaited return in their win over the Reds, said the Stormers would be looking to knock them off their perch.

“South African derbies are always tough, and they are coming off a defeat so they will be looking to bounce back while we are at the top and everyone will be gunning for us,” Van Staden said.

“It is never easy playing at Newlands, I’ve never played an easy game there, so they come here with a lot of emotion, and they have the home-ground advantage.

Strong showing

“It is going to be a tough one, but we are looking forward to it.”

Van Staden made a strong showing in his comeback against the Reds before taking a breather during the bye.

The weekend’s match against the Stormers will be the ideal chance for Van Staden to gauge how much rust he still has in his system.

“It is always nice playing the big games to test yourself and put yourself under pressure,” Van Staden said.

“It was a good rest, the boys needed a good rest, we put in some work during the off-time, and we are ready to go and hungry to play.”

The Bulls can expect more reinforcements for the North-South bruiser with Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen expected to make his return from his two-week rest.

The Pretoria side could very well field one of their strongest teams this season which would certainly make for an enticing spectacle.

The Stormers, meanwhile, will welcome back some of their stalwarts including the influential locks Eben Etzebeth and JD Schickerling.

The home side can also call on Bok skipper Siya Kolisi, Damian de Allende, Frans Malherbe, and Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

The encounter could be considered mini Springbok trials with both teams packed with national players.

“I don’t see it as trials, I haven’t played in a long time, so I just focus on playing Super Rugby and doing best there and controlling what I can control, “ Van Staden said.

“If it happens (Springbok selection), I would be very grateful for the opportunity, but at this stage, my focus is to play well.”