Wounds from the past may have healed but the pain of losing the Currie Cup title to the Free State Cheetahs in the dying seconds in 2005 at Loftus Versfeld still runs deep for Blue Bulls captain Victor Matfield.
Vata Ngobeni writes for the Pretoria News that that game was the last one in which Matfield faced the Cheetahs in Currie Cup rugby and admittedly that was the lowest point in his rugby career.
That in itself should be enough motivation for Matfield and his teammates to beat the Cheetahs. But the Blue Bulls will travel to Bloemfontein tomorrow highly charged up to fight until the death to secure themselves a home semi-final anyway.
Matfield believes that his team is two victories away from guaranteeing their place in the last four and three wins away from a certain home semi-final berth and maybe by some luck even top spot to seal a home final, if the Sharks falter and lose top spot in the final straight.
“That final loss was a long time ago. It is more important for us to get two more wins to get into the semi-finals, or even three wins. That is more motivation than what happened three years ago. That game will always be in our minds, it is probably one of the lowest points in my career but that is long forgotten and other things motivate us for this game,” Matfield said on Wednesday.
True to expectation, Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke selected Bryan Habana and Danie Rossouw in his starting 15 declaring that both players had made a full recovery and there were no more lingering doubts about their fitness.
Habana and Rossouw missed last week’s encounter against Boland and were doubtful starters on Monday but have miraculously fully recovered in less than 48 hours.
“They are fit. They had a great session on Tuesday morning and both of them have been cleared. There’s not even a little bit of doubt about that,” said Ludeke on Wednesday.
Ludeke stood firm in defending his team selection and in justifying playing an out of sorts Habana instead of giving him another week to recover and exercising the option of utilising John Mametsa who has hardly put a foot wrong this year.
“He (Habana) is the best in his position in the world at the moment even though he is not in his best form, he has proven over and over again and we must give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s eager and looking forward to it and we back him. John is doing great work for us and is having a good season. John knows where he stands and we back the guys that we have picked can do the job for us,” Ludeke said.
Ludeke also explained his persistence with wing Marius Delport at centre instead of partnering Springbok Wayne Julies, who is reportedly still overweight, with in-form Wynand Olivier.
“Wynand at the moment is really doing some special things. We have no doubt about Marius, I back him 200 percent and in his channel nobody is going to get passed him and his attacking abilities are improving every week.
“We don’t want to chop and change. I know that there is a lot of questions. But in our system we back him (Delport),” said Ludeke. “Wynand and Marius played well against the Sharks, they had a lot of line breaks.
“Wayne is also a good player but I also think Wynand prefers 12 and it is difficult to pick him out of position. Wayne is a great player and he will be the first to admit that he is not in the shape that he would like to be in.
“He’s got two more weeks to work hard before the semi-finals to get into shape,” said Matfield.Tweet