Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is adamant that his team, the defending champions, are not out of the Super 14 play-off race yet, but admits that they need to start making their move this week.
Jan De Koning of Rugby 365 writes that the Bulls face the Blues in Auckland on Saturday, a venue where they have never won before.
The Bulls, who won the Super 14 title in dramatic fashion last year after a late charge up the standings to sneak a home semifinal, are currently 11th on the table after four defeats in six starts.
Last year the Bulls made an equally appalling starting, bouncing back from being 12th on the table at one stage to finish second.
While pundits feel the Pretoria-based outfit is unlikely to repeat those heroics, Ludeke is adamant theirs is not a lost cause yet.
“It is certainly not over,” he told rugby365.com, when asked if he felt the team’s challenge for a play-off place is over.
“It [the competition] is at the halfway point of the season and here is where the important things must happen,” he said, adding that the Bulls have come from behind several time in recent years.
“Teams like ourselves, who are behind, can suddenly click and injuries clear up.
“It is important to rather finish strong, than have a good start and then later on you have injuries and things don’t work,” he added.
Ludeke readily admits that his team’s performances in the first six round have invited criticism, but he remains upbeat.
“It can only get better,” he said, adding: “We have confidence in our own ability.
“The last few years we have finished very strongly.
“Now we have the core of last year’s team back on the field and we must just keep those combinations together.
“We truly believe we can still pull it off and mentally we’re still in a very positive frame of mind.
“It is just a few things that must go in our favour and then the things are in place.”
Ludeke has dismissed the notion that his team has been on a slippery slope into a mire of mediocrity this season.
“I know a lot of people don’t agree, but there is an upward curve in many aspects of our game.
“It may not show on the scoreboard, but we will continue to focus on what is required on tour.”
Ludeke, who made a number of changes to his team, feel that some individuals could provide the spark that will light up the Bulls’ season.
“A player like Pierre [Spies, named at No.8 for his first game back after eight months on the sidelines] can certainly add something at the breakdown,” he said of the talent loose forward.
“Zane [Kirchner, back from suspension], at fullback, gives the team different options.
“I’m not saying all our hope is vested in them, but as a team we are growing closer as a unit.
“The players are beginning to take responsibility and every weekend you can see there are more things coming through and more things working for us.
“It is little things and we are positive that the turning point is close, when the wheel will turn in our favour,” he added.Tweet