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VIDEO: Bulls unfazed by outside noise

SPOTLIGHT: Whether they are labelled the favourites or underdogs, the Bulls are not getting lost in the external media hype ahead of the United Rugby Championship semifinal against Leinster on Saturday.


Saturday’s showdown will be the first URC semifinal hosted by the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls boast an incredible record at home this season, with just a 22-27 defeat to URC reigning champs Munster.

They also produced one of the all-time upsets of the competition, recording a 27-26 win over Leinster in a pulsating semifinal in the 2021/22 edition in Dublin.

However, despite all that, the consensus seems to be that Jake White’s men will come in second against the Irish giants.

And that could be with good reason, given their unconvincing 30-23 quarterfinal win over Benetton and the 14-47 defeat to Leinster earlier this season.

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“We know a lot of stuff is going to be said about who is the underdogs and who is favourites,” Bulls captain Ruan Nortje told reporters on Thursday.

“However, in a week like this, I try to avoid any big stuff about a game on social media, because it is just outside noise.

“Obviously at the end of the day, Leinster is a quality side.


“They are full of internationals and probably have more international caps than our team has URC caps.

“The last time we played them they beat us 47-14, which speaks for itself.

“But like I said, we don’t really look read into that type of stuff. It is a play-off game and for us, it’s just about going out and giving it a full go.”

The captain conceded that playing in front of their home crowd at Loftus Versfeld does give his side an extra reason to produce a solid performance.

Should the Pretoria side overcome the Irish giants, and Glasgow Warriors beat Munster in the other semifinal, they could host the Grand Final the next weekend – adding to the already incredible history of the franchise.

“We have a rich history here at the Bulls going back to the Super Rugby days. For us, it is just about honouring those days and just making it a special occasion.

“We want to put out a quality display of rugby.”

The newly crowned SA Shield winners will draw inspiration from their great season, boasting the best attack in the competition with 669 points scored to Leinster’s 577.

However, Nortje said defence is a concern as they have been especially vulnerable in that area for the last couple of games.

“Leinster are very good at capitalizing on the opportunities and seeing the small things.

“As soon as they get a good breakdown and quick ball, they are almost unstoppable,” Nortje noted.

“We have to be much better defensively. They have an incredible coaching team [which includes the former Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber], so they are going to prep the guys.

“In the last few games we have been leaking a few tries and that is definitely a place in our game that they are going to try to exploit.”

The captain added: “The first 20 minutes is going to be huge for us.

“When they get a good start, their confidence is high and they become a really difficult team to beat.”


In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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