Bulls eye 'hot payback' for Edinburgh
INTERVIEW: Edinburgh, loaded with Scottish internationals and a South African physicality, can expect a ‘hot’ welcome at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
It has less to do with the expected high Pretoria temperatures (a predicted 29°C) and more with the ‘heat’ the Bulls will bring.
Edinburgh arrived in South Africa off the back of a 44-6 demolition of under-performing Welsh outfit the Dragons – a side that won just two of their 18 matches in the inaugural 2021-22 season.
Bulls assistant coach Russell Winter and veteran Springbok Cornal Hendricks both said they will look to exact revenge on the Scottish tourists – following a disappointing loss in Edinburgh last year.
Winter said the Bulls are looking to build on the ‘momentum’ they gained from their opening round win (31-15) against the Lions at Ellis Park this past weekend.
“I don’t think we were the complete product,” the Bulls’ assistant coach said, adding that they are looking to “speed the game up”.
He said Edinburgh, who finished the inaugural URC season in seventh place as the top Scottish team, showed last year with their win over the Bulls just how dangerous they are.
“They also made the play-offs and were really competitive,” Winter said of Edinburgh’s 17-28 loss to eventual champions the Stormers in a quarterfinal in Cape Town in June this year
He added that the Bulls will look to use their home field advantage to their benefit – especially against an Edinburgh team that did their training in the build-up at sea level in Cape Town..
“We have the Highveld and this wonderful climate we can use to our advantage,” Winter said.
The Scottish outfit will have several South African players with experience of playing at Loftus – the likes of Luan de Bruin, Willem Nel, Pierre Schoeman, Boan Venter and Jaco van der Walt.
Schoeman, born in Nelspruit, played 60-odd games for the Bulls before he joined Edinburgh in 2018 – where he became a Scottish-capped Test player.
Those players will certainly add a ‘physical edge’ to the visitors.
* Continue below …
— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) September 20, 2022
“It was great to get a win against the Lions, ahead of our clash with Edinburgh,” the Bulls’ forwards coach said.
“However, the Edinburgh pack has that South African physicality to it,” Winter added.
Hendricks said they are looking forward to playing Scottish outfit, Edinburgh, in a Round Two outing at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“The last time we played them it wasn’t a good outing for us,” he said of the 10-17 loss in Edinburgh in October last year.
“We are playing in the afternoon,” he said of the 14.30 kick-off, adding: “It is going to be lekker hot [29°C].
“We owe them one.”
Hendricks admitted that the physical nature of the South African game will also come into the contest, while the European visitors are “technically very good” with impressive aerial skills.
However, in the heat of the South African spring and the Highveld, the Bulls would look to ‘chase the tempo’ against the visitors from the Northern Hemisphere.
He added that in Wandisile Simelane and Sibusiso Nkosi, who made their URC debuts for the Bulls, the hosts have two players with “plenty of talent”.
“I told Wandi on Saturday I am so glad he is playing for us,” the Springbok veteran said.
“With his talent, he will make us better as a team as well.”
He also spoke of the Director of Rugby Jake White’s well-documented statement that players need to bring a utility factor to the side to add value.
The return of Springbok Johan Goosen has also caused a stir at training in recent weeks, with Hendricks saying he bring a ‘different flavour’ to the Bulls team.
“He has a lot of energy,” he said, adding: “He is a talented player that improves the games of players like David [Kriel], Lionel [Mapoe] and myself.
Edinburgh tour squad
Forwards: Lee-Roy Atalifo, Nick Auterac, Dave Cherry, Luke Crosbie, Luan de Bruin, Grant Gilchrist (co-captain), Nick Haining, Viliame Mata, Adam McBurney, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Ritchie (co-captain), Pierre Schoeman, Sam Skinner, Marshall Sykes, Boan Venter, Hamish Watson, Glen Young.
Backs: Mark Bennett, Jack Blain, Matt Currie, Chris Dean, Darcy Graham, Damien Hoyland, Henry Immelman, Blair Kinghorn, James Lang, Harry Paterson,
Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Charlie Shiel, Jaco van der Walt, Ben Vellacott.