Spies wary of Force backlash
Blue Bulls captain and number eight Pierre Spies said they were keen to avoid a backlash from the Force, who will look to finish their South African leg on a high.
The Bulls muscled their way to an ugly but effective 25-17 win over the Stormers in their opening Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday, while the Force suffered two losses from two matches as the Kings ambushed them 22-10.
“Last weekend does not matter any more because it is a new week with new challenges,” Spies said.
“They have had two losses and they’ll want to make that right against us. Our preparation is heading in the right direction in making sure that we fire on all cylinders and it is important that we focus on every aspect of the game on the day,” said Spies.
The Bulls have made four changes to Friday’s victorious team. Injured loose forwards Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann have been replaced by Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha.
At the back, JJ Engelbrecht has made way for Lionel Mapoe, with Sampie Mastriet set to make his Super Rugby debut. His inclusion has excited Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, who said the young winger has earned his place in the team.
Ludeke said: “He had an excellent Currie Cup and has been an exciting player throughout his career. In broken field space he is devastating and it is a great opportunity for him. He has been working towards this opportunity for four years and we believe he is the best finisher on the wing and the next guy in the position.”
The Force may be bracketed as one of the weakest teams in the Australian conference but it is a label the Bulls refuse to believe. The physical nature of the tournament is starting to take its toll but Spies said teams have to take it in their stride.
“You always have in the back of your mind that everybody should play when the opportunity comes,” Spies said.
“We are in the second week of Super Rugby and we are already ringing the changes because of injuries. Everyone is aware of that and it is important that the guys that slot in find their feet as quickly as possible.”
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Sampie Mastriet, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Mornè Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies (captain), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Jacques Potgieter, 5. Juandrè Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Mornè Mellett
Substitutes: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Jean Cook, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouchè , 22. Jan Serfontein