The dispute over which and how many Springboks should be allowed to play in the Currie Cup competition has added spice to the already delectable battle between the Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls.
Free State boss Harold Verster stirred the pot this week when he objected to Bakkies Botha playing for the Bulls in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The subsequent fall-out – which dragged the South African Rugby Players Association and the South African Rugby Union into the dispute – saw the Cheetahs being deprived of Bok prop CJ van der Linde.
Despite the obvious acrimony at administrative level and the recent history between these two teams – they have met in the semifinals or Final of the competition every year since 2004 – Bulls coach Frans Ludeke does not expect any unnecessary niggle.
Ludeke, speaking to rugby365.com this week, said he is expecting a more tactical battle.
“It is always very competitive,” the Bulls coach said of encounters with the Cheetahs, adding: “It won’t be just a physical battle, there are a lot of tactics involved.
“[Cheetahs backline coach] Hawies [Fourie] and Naka [Drotské, head coach] are very innovative and every time we play them they come up with something new,” Ludeke said, adding that he doesn’t expect any unnecessary niggle.
While the game will still have a very physical edge to it, a game in which both teams will give their all, the Bulls mentor felt the contest for the ball and in the contact situations will hold the key.
“It is a game we really look forward to, because these two teams tend to bring the best out in each other.”
Add to that their respective positions on the table – Western Province, the Cheetahs and Bulls all tied on 28 points, with only points difference separating them.
With only five rounds of league action remaining, victory is almost non-negotiable.
Asked what he felt could turn a game that has so much riding on it, Ludeke said it is all about the “execution of your game plan”.
“It is about what the opposition allows you to do, whether you can enforce your game plan on the match,” the Bulls coach said.
“That is what makes an arm-wrestle like this so intriguing, it is about who can take initiative and enforce their will on the opposition.”
One of the more interesting sub-plots of the game is the battle between the two flyhalves – Louis Strydom (Cheetahs) and Jaques-Louis Potgieter (Bulls).
Strydom has succeeded with his last 24 kicks at goal and will be hoping that this form continues in a game where the margin for error will be minimal.
The Cheetahs pivot, who has scored 96 points after nine games, has enjoyed a 84 percent kicking record this season.
Potgieter has achieved a 77 percent kicking record this season.
Courtesy of Rugby 365Tweet