According to Vodacom Blue Bulls assistant coach Mike Bayly, picking a loose-trio without a specialist openside-flank is done by choice.
The Bulls have selected the ball-carrying back row combination of Pedrie Wannenburg, Hilton Lobberts and Pierre Spies for their vital Absa Currie Cup match against the Sharks, but Bayly insists they won’t be at a disadvantage at the breakdown.
“We consciously make the choice to select three ball carrying loose forwards,” Bayly told Keo.co.za.
” We don’t see it as a risk at all because Pedrie Wannenburg is great at the breakdown. He gets there so quickly and creates more turnovers than people realise. His been a key ball winner for us this season.”
Bayly said their research had shown them that Wanneburg’s effectiveness at the breakdown compared favourably to specialist openside-flankers in the Currie Cup.
“If you look at the games in their totality, and you assess the work done by the top fetchers in the tournament, Pedrie makes only one or two less turnovers in an entire game than they do. That’s really not that much.
“On that basis, we choose to select the trio we do because Pedrie offers you the added benefit of being extremely good with ball in hand.
“But if the game dictates that we need a specialist fetcher we’ve got Derrick KuÃ¼n on the bench, so the theory that teams will dominate us at the breakdown is unfounded,” he said.
Bayly though conceded that the Sharks loose trio would pose a significant threat at ruck time but said the Pretoria-based side were well prepared for them.
“They’re great on the ground, especially their flankers Warren Britz and Jacques Botes. We’ll look to nullify them by making sure that the support runners are always tight to the ball carrier and our cleaners at rucks and mauls have to do their job effectively.”
The Wanneburg/Lobberts/Spies combination is one of the quickest and most physical back rows the Bulls have selected recently. But while Bayly said they would play a major role in getting the team go forward momentum, it will take a collective effort to will secure the much needed win.
“We’re relying on everybody to contribute. The tight five know their job but we won’t be one dimensional in attack.
“We’ve got a Super 14 quality backline. Heinie [Adams], Derrick [Hougaard] Wynand [Olivier] and JP [Nel] will provide the attacking power that we need and our outside backs are tremendous.”
The Bulls tactics, particularly away from home have centered on Hougaard’s boot gaining territory and the pack trying to dominate the set phases in the opposition’s 22m area.
Bayly agreed that touch-finding kicks would be vital, lest the dangerous Sharks backline stuck on the counterattack.
“We are well aware that their back three are really dangerous from deep. They are not afraid to run the ball from inside their 22, so we’ll have to be excellent defensively or we could be in serious trouble.”
By Ryan Vrede