In the wake of the Bulls, 16-11 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin. Sharksworld spoke exclusively to Frans Ludeke and Francois Hougaard about tonight’s match, the season so far and the challenges ahead.
Sharksworld: Well first of all commiserations on tonight’s result, you guys looked really composed throughout the entire match but somehow just couldn’t pull it off.
Frans Ludeke: Yeah, just a few missed opportunities, we created a few, we had the ball enough we had to attack from deep and couldn’t keep the ball for long enough to build that pressure into points.
SW: You really did look tonight a top of the table side that appeared to play well within yourselves – that also seemed the case last week against the Waratahs. Did you feel you were in the game right at the very end and were about to turn the screw.
FL: We had an opportunity at the very end, we missed out on it but I must say the Highlanders play well tonight, they kept the ball well and we were forced to defend for most of the game, often having possession in the wrong areas.
SW: One game that really stuck in our mind here last season was when the Highlanders beat the Bulls in Pretoria. So tonight Jamie(Joseph) was obviously keen to attack you in those wide channels and you were probably expecting that a bit did you talk about that before or during the match?
FL: No, it wasn’t a surprise it is the way they play. They are the team that kicks the least in most of the categories of all the sides and it was almost our defensive versus their retention game and although we forced turnovers we couldn’t capitalise – so full credit to them.
SW: Now this June International window what do the Bulls have planned?
FL: Obviously we have to wait and see how many of our players are in the squad. We will then take it from there, I think it is better to wait and see, it is obviously going to influence how you are going to prepare if half of your squad is in the international squad. But we will just wait and see and as soon as they announce the squad – I think they are going to name a 30 man squad – we have some ideas (of what we will do) but we will just wait until it is named.
SW: Our readership is mainly Sharks supporters and with you still haveing to visit the Sharks – what are your views on the differences between between playing New Zealand and Australian sides as opposed to your traditional South African derby?
FL: It’s tough all over – the South African derby’s are more personal with the players all knowing each other but they are brutal 80 minute encounters – like most of the games as was evident again tonight, we have had a few injuries come out of tonight’s match due to it’s physical nature.
SW: Now you have seen a lot of rugby and have been to a lot of Stadia around the world – so what do you make of our roof?
FL: Haha…. Yeah it’s awesome – it is something different. It invites positive rugby, if you have a retention game and you are able to look after it at the breakdown then playing here can be a great experience.
SW: I think even after the loss here tonight you are still top of the table, obviously you will be out to win the South African Conference do you still think you are capable of that?
FL: We are focused on just the next game the end of the season is still a long way off. There is still a lot of rugby to be played. We have the Chiefs here next week where we will have to improve our accuracy.
SW: Next week’s clash between you and the Chiefs sets up a tasty clash of the leading sides in their respective conferences.
FL: Oh yes, they (Chiefs) are flying high and we will definitely have to be at our best.
SW: All the best for next week Frans and thanks for speaking with Sharksworld.
FL: Thank-you very much.
I managed to have a great chat/interview post-match with Francois Hougaard – which I will also post soon!Tweet