Heyneke Meyer has stressed that assuming the Bulls’ run of home games early in the Super 14 will automatically translate into success could prove fatal to his side’s championship challenge.
Speaking to keo.co.za, Meyer did not believe that the draw which sees the Bulls start the competition with a run of four home games following the away trip to Bloem favoured his side.
“If you look at last year, we had five games away to start and only won one of those five. We were totally written off, and then we came back and won all our home games,” Meyer said.
“I actually prefer to tour early, because then if you suffer a few injuries you’re playing top sides that you’re not expected to beat anyway. Whereas when you’re at home, the presure is really on. Also, a lot of the teams that tour later – say for example the Reds last year – are out of the competition and it makes it very difficult for them to tour here. They don’t have much motivation.”
The Bulls start their home run against top Aussie contenders the Waratahs and Brumbies, with Meyer warning against over-confidence spurned by the Bulls’ unbeaten run at home last season.
“This year we’re playing some very strong teams at home, and we are under pressure to beat them. If we lose those games, we are going to put ourselves under pressure for the away leg.
“The draw is not something I’m factoring in as either a positive or a negative. I will prepare the side to win every game and won’t target any games. All the sides visiting Loftus will still be in the competition and will be fresh, so we have our work cut out. The mistake South Africans make is assuming a home game equals an easy game, but when your visitors are the likes of the Crusaders, the Brumbies and the Waratahs it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Meyer believes his side has learnt from last year’s disastrous away trip, and is far more mentally tuned to what is required to excel in the extended competition.
“We must be more mentally tough this year. Whatever the draw is you must be able to cope with it.”
BULLS’ SUPER 14 DRAW
10 Feb vs Cheetahs Bloemfontein
17 Feb vs Brumbies Pretoria
25 Feb vs Waratahs Pretoria
11 March vs Highlanders Pretoria
17 March vs Hurricanes Pretoria
25 March vs Force Perth
31 March vs Blues Auckland
8 April vs Chiefs Hamilton
15 April vs Reds Brisbane
22 April vs Cats Pretoria
29 April vs Sharks Pretoria
5 May vs Crusaders Pretoria
13 May vs Stormers Cape Town