A jam-packed Loftus, a fully-fit squad except for one player and a chance to go top of the Super14 log with three games left to play. That is the win-win scenario facing Bulls coach Frans Ludeke on Saturday.
The only problem with this scenario comes in the shape of the red-hot Chiefs, who are performing so well that they top the Super14 log.
But that is precisely what Ludeke wants, as he explained to Sport24 when the Bulls trained at Loftus Versfeld for the first time in five weeks on Monday.
“Yes, it’s nice to be back home. It was five long weeks, but we are happy with what we achieved there. Now we must build on what we have managed thus far,” said Ludeke.
He does not have Bakkies Botha available, but can call on all his other first-choice players.
He will make a final call on his centre pairing, loose-trio and substitutes bench on Tuesday.
“The rotation system worked well because it kept guys fresh. We have now reached a phase where I would like to pick my strongest available side every week,” said Ludeke.
JJ Harmse reports in Rapport that Deon Stegmann is likely to play as fetching flank, with Pedrie Wannenburg or Dewald Potgieter on the other side of the scrum in a loose-trio that also includes Pierre Spies.
“Those 20 minutes that Deon played as a substitute against the Brumbies was exactly what he needed to get him back on song after his suspension,” said Ludeke.
“I will decide on Tuesday who the third member of the loose-trio will be after studying the Chiefs. Pedrie and Dewald also offer a lot of value off the bench.”
Ludeke also has to choose between JP Nel and Jaco Pretorius to partner Wynand Olivier in midfield.
The other question is whether he should have two props on the bench. The option worked well overseas, but Ludeke may also opt for a more traditional bench.
“We’ll try to keep the guys fresh this week. The team is settled, knows exactly how everything works and is keen to perform at home.”
Ludeke believes Loftus will be an ally.
“We need the spectators. The focus is now to make the semifinal at Loftus a reality, but there is still a lot of rugby to be played.”
The Chiefs, who are preparing in Cape Town, will fly out to Pretoria on Friday. Scrumhalf Brendon Leonard has a chest injury and will not be able to play against the Bulls. David Bason has been called up from New Zealand.Tweet