The Bulls start their Super 14 tour of Australasia on Friday night. What they do or fail to do against the Lions will determine in what mood they board for their flight on Saturday.
Morris Gilbert, News24
That is one of the home truths that veteran Bulls manager Wynie Strydom conveyed to the players this week as they prepared for the crucial match against their neighbours at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls are scheduled to depart for Australasia on Saturday and their mental approach will depend largely on how well they play on Friday night.
Strydom and Bulls captain Fourie du Preez are well aware of the consequences of a third consecutive home defeat.
“All Super 14 teams are under the same huge pressure week after week but we don’t have the luxury of saying the match against the Lions is just another game,” Du Preez said on Thursday.
“Only victory will get our campaign back on track. We have to win, at all cost.”
Strydom, who has been the team’s manager for 13 seasons, knows best what the difference between victory and defeat is on the eve of an overseas tour.
“I know what it feels like to go on tour after losing your last home match,” he said on Thursday. “Defeat creates a depressing atmosphere.”
The biggest risk the Super 14 champions face on Friday night is that their fear of suffering another defeat may be bigger than their will to win.
They know they went down to the Sharks last week because they lost concentration and made basic errors.
Against the Lions, every player will be expected to perform with courage, character and pride.
Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Bryan Habana, Derick Hougaard, Fourie du Preez (capt), Pedrie Wannenburg, Wikus van Heerden, Danie Rossouw, Bakkies Botha, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Rayno Gerber, Derick Kuün, Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Substitutes: James van der Walt, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling, Deon Stegmann, Dewald Potgieter, Heini Adams and Stephan Dippenaar.
Lions: Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jaco Pretorius, Walter Venter, Ryno Benjamin, Louis Strydom, Jano Vermaak, Joe van Niekerk, Ernst Joubert (capt), Cobus Grobbelaar, Willem Stoltz, Gerhard Mostert, Ross Geldenhuys, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe.
Substitutes: Ethienne Reynecke, JC Janse van Rensburg, Anton van Zyl, Willem Alberts, Chris Jonck, Jaco van Schalkwyk and Jannie Boshoff.
Referee: JC Fortuin
Television: Live coverage on M-Net and SuperSport 1 on DStv, starting at 19:00.Tweet