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VIDEO: Bulls switch to 'Test match mode'

It will be a purposeful Bulls team that will depart for England on Tuesday, to face Northampton Saints in a Champions Cup quarterfinal at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

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Not only do they have to overcome a challenging travelling schedule – departing late on Tuesday and only arrive three days before the game – but in Northampton will await a team with some inside info into the Bulls’ inner workings.

Burger Odendaal, with more than 100 games for the Bulls in a nearly decade-long stay in Pretoria, and Juarno Augustus have insights they will readily share with their teammates.

Embrose Cheldon Papier, the 26-year-old Springbok scrumhalf, is optimistic they can upset the odds against the English Premiership leaders.

Those challenges and the fact that it is a play-off match means the encounter will take on the marking of a Test match.

“It’s going to be tough,” Papier told a media briefing at the start of the Bulls’ build-up to their first appearance in a European Cup quarterfinal.

He said they looked well at what the Saints bring to the game.

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However, the travel schedule is adding another level to the
predicament.

“We are flying on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Usually when we travel late, we take it slow when we get to England or France.

“We will relax and do a lot of stretches.”

Turning to the South Africans in the Saints camp, he said they know the threats Odendaal and Augustus pose.

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“Burger and Trokkie [Augustus] are both great rugby players.

“They are physical and know us.

“Burger spent most of his career at the Bulls, so he will chat with his teammates about us.

“But we are looking at them more as a team.

“They are a good side.”

And the Saints, unlike many European teams, are not one-dimensional.

(WATCH as Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Cheldon Papier speaks about the challenge of facing the Premiership’s leading light on their home ground.…)

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“Usually people think teams in England or Europe kick the ball a lot, but Northampton can run the ball from everywhere.”

The Bulls and Saints both come into the quarterfinal on good form,.

Northampton lost one of their last five games – to Bristol Bears last month.

Home victories over Saracens and Munster followed that loss.

The Bulls lost heavily (14-47) to Leinster in Dublin, before booking their place in the quarterfinal with a (59-19) demolition of Lyon at Loftus Versfeld last week.

Papier felt the Bulls took to heart the lessons they learned in Dublin.

“After the defeat to Leinster, the guys were down, but we reacted really well against Lyon.

“It’s going to be a physical game [against Saints].

“The weather will be cold and wet.

“I think it will almost be like a Test.

“The team that plays in the right areas of the field and takes control of the game will win.

“Our game management is going to be important.

“It’s going to be a massive game.

“If we look back at our game against Leinster, we kicked a lot to ensure we are playing in the right areas.

“But if you kick too far or in the middle of the field, teams in the UK will punish you.

“They are used to playing in these conditions.

“Consistency will be important.”

@rugby365com

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