The Crusaders have been warned: Bakkies Botha is on the warpath.
Bulls captain Victor Matfield told keo.co.za that Botha’s benching last week – albeit tactically – has fired up his lock partner ahead of the do-or-die Vodacom Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders on Saturday.
“Bakkies definitely gives us a hard physical edge. He is quite intimidating for the opposition and he is really revved up for this game,” Matfield told keo.co.za from his hotel room at the Holiday Inn Garden Court in central Christchurch.
“Bakkies played as much in the game against the Stormers, about 55 or 60 minutes as he did in any other game this season, but he prides himself on being in the starting line-up. I don’t think he was entirely happy playing off the bench, but he knew why,” Matfield explained.
If the Bulls are to have any hope of pulling off what would amount to the shock of the season in many people’s eyes, they will all need fire from the first whistle. Bothaâ€™s no-nonsense approach needs to be adopted by all 15 players if the Bulls are to disrupt the well-oiled Crusaders machine. â€œBakkiesâ€™ hunger to play well this weekend is huge. We need a great start if we hope to win.â€
The opening 20 minutes will be vital to the outcome and for this reason Botha – all 118kg and 2.02m of him – will be used as the battering ram. If the ‘Saders wall holds then they will likely end victorious, but if the Bulls can make early in roads on the scoreboard they might have a chance.
â€œItâ€™s always hard to win away from home and especially against the Crusaders, but the same rules apply to both teams out there. We do, however, have to be at our very best.â€
By Andrew Hollely