Blue Bulls backlash

The Lions have been warned: the Blue Bulls have seen red ahead of their derby clash at Ellis Park tomorrow afternoon.

The high standards the Bulls expect of themselves were not evident against the Valke at Loftus Versfeld last Friday. Although the Bulls pulled off a narrow win, the manner in which they went about their business infuriated coach Heyneke Meyer no end.

Meyer has high expectations of himself and his team – they were not triple Currie Cup champions by default. And this week has seen a concerted effort to ensure no repeat performance against the Lions.

In fact such is the intensity in the Bulls camp now that Eugene Eloff’s Lions could be in for a really tough afternoon. “We always knew the first round would be tough considering we are missing our Springboks, but that is no excuse,” Meyer told keo.co.za.

“We have high standards here at the Bulls and we were definitely not happy with how we played against the Valke. And to their credit the guys have accepted that.”

Fortunately for Meyer, he welcomes back Springboks Gary Botha (hooker) and Pedrie Wannenburg ( No 8 ) for the match.

“We struggled up front a little against the Valke because we had no genuine ball carriers. Both Gary and Pedrie are superb at that so I’m hoping their impact will make a difference.”

Apart from trying to rectify the problems from the opening match, the past week has had added problems with the delayed announcement of the Springbok squad, which affected all the big teams.

But with the Bulls having at least twice as many players out on national duty the delay disrupted their preparations more than most.

“It didn’t help not knowing who was in or out. We were uncertain about Pedrie, Gary, Akona (Ndungane), Pierre (Spies) and Chiliboy (Ralepelle).”

The latter three all got their first call-ups to the Springbok Vodacom Tri-Nations squad, while Meyer was thrilled to welcome back the experience of Botha and Wannenburg.

The Bulls have won seven of the last nine trans-Jukskei, but that will count for nothing when the teams run out at Ellis Park. Both teams have so much to play for in this derby encounter.

By Andrew Hollely