Jean punts on Bulls v Crusaders Final
The Bulls may have had a poor fortnight, in the last two rounds of league action, but they are still a good bet to host the Super Rugby Final.
In fact Springbok captain Jean de Villiers feels the Bulls are likely to host the Crusaders in the grand finale on Saturday, August 3.
This comes despite the fact that his team, the Stormers, demolished the Bulls (30-13) at Newlands at the weekend.
The preliminary qualifiers (or quarterfinals) will see the Crusaders host Reds in Christchurch on Saturday, while the Brumbies will be at home to the Cheetahs in Canberra on Sunday.
By finishing the season as the competition's two highest-ranked conference winners, the Chiefs and Bulls have earned the week off and progress straight to the Super Rugby semifinals. The Chiefs will host the lowest ranked qualifier and the Bulls the higher ranked team in the semis.
The highest ranked team after the semifinals will host the Final. If the Bulls and Crusaders advance, as De Villiers suggested, the Bulls will host the grand finale – despite finishing second on the standings.
De Villiers admitted it will be tough for the Cheetahs.
"It has been a great season for them and hopefully they can cause a couple of upsets," De Villiers said at the post-match conference, after the Stormers' impressive win over the Bulls.
"It is going to be really tough for them, as they will have to travel away all three games if they are going to make it to the Final.
"Good luck to them, hopefully they can do that.
"Essentially you probably going to have to back the Bulls – they still finished second, they will have a week off."
The Bulls will be hoping to get a number of their injured players, who missed the trip to Newlands, back for the semifinals.
"Hopefully they will get some injured players back – a guy like Jan [Serfontein], who is very important to them from a ball carrying point of view," the Stormers and Bok skipper said.
He added that the Bulls would also hope to get some experience back for the play-offs.
"You never know what can happen," De Villiers said, adding: "The Crusaders are on a bit of a roll and they will probably get the Chiefs in he semifinal.
"I won't be surprised to have a Bulls versus Crusaders Final at Loftus [Versfeld].
"And you have to back the Bulls."
The Bok captain said that from a national team point of view, you would want them to travel as little as possible and not get injured.
By Jan de Koning