Naas Botha believes the Vodacom Blue Bulls must catch a wake-up if they hope to feature in the play-offs of the Absa Currie Cup this year.
“The Currie Cup is going in one direction at the moment,” Botha told keo.co.za. “The other teams are adapting their styles, but the Bulls continue with their crash bash play. It is not working and they need to catch a wake-up soon.”
“Teams like Western Province and the Sharks are able to change the game plan when it is needed, but that said, the Valke nearly beat Province at the weekend.”
“The Bulls have the talent to play a different type of game, but it seems they are unwilling to change. And they mustn’t use the excuse of missing Springboks. Everyone is missing their Springboks yet they continue to play good rugby.”
The Bulls currently sit in fourth place behind the three teams Botha sees as favourites for the title this year. “The Cheetahs, Sharks and Western Province have been impressive and I would have them all as favourites. The Bulls will probably be the fourth team in the semis.”
Botha’s lack of confidence in his former team is understandable after they have failed to fire at Loftus Versfeld. Defeats by Province and the Sharks, coupled with a narrow two-point win over the Valke has set the alarm bells ringing.
The only team currently performing worse than the Bulls is their trans-Jukskei neighbours, the Lions.
“The Lions have been even worse and if you do not do your homework, you will fail your final exam. I don’t think the Lions have a chance of featuring in the semi-finals this year,” stated Botha.
Already the Currie Cup’s Premier Division of eight teams has been split into a top four and bottom four. Although Griquas are well-placed in fifth spot, it is unlikely they will break through. “The smaller unions (Griquas, Valke and Pumas) may still have a few surprises for the bigger teams, but at the end of the day they will not make the top four.”
“I would be very surprised if the semis aren’t the Cheetahs, Sharks, Western Province and Bulls. And I think it could be a Sharks versus Cheetahs final going on current form.”
By Andrew Hollely