; Bulls, Sharks showdown awaits – The Citizen

Bulls, Sharks showdown awaits

ON THE MOVE. Marcell Coetzee gets his pass away during the Sharks' training session at King's Park in Durban this week. Picture: Gallo Images.

ON THE MOVE. Marcell Coetzee gets his pass away during the Sharks' training session at King's Park in Durban this week. Picture: Gallo Images.

If the Sharks and Bulls somehow manage to pull off a freewheeling, points-laden Super Rugby opener against each other at King’s Park tonight, you might need to pinch yourself because it doesn’t happen often.

Indeed, the steaminess of Durban this time of the year, allied to general rustiness, is a tonic that continues to ensure iffy low-scorers.

Taking into account that fact, there’s the workable argument that the Bulls – truly under the cosh for the first time in 10 years – might be given a reprieve from very long odds against hosts that are, quite frankly, over-hyped already.

Nothing fundamentally has changed at the Sharks in terms of resources.

They always go into this tournament with formidable squads but they regularly lack the glue to produce the type of consistency expected of them.

Perhaps then, the hype emanates from Jake White entering the fray.

Yet as Springbok coach, he relied substantially on the Bulls and that means he surely has an appreciation for their virtues.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was right this week in pointing out that despite it being a cliché, the forwards battle will most likely be brutal.

It’s not only the South African way, it’s a default in the expected conditions.

In fact, it could be such a leveller that concerns over the bulk of the Bulls’ loose trio might be misguided – at least this week.

“In my view, every player is expected to be at the breakdown first,” said Ludeke.

Traditionally, the Bulls travel well to Durban, but even though they have a fairly experienced first-choice combination, question marks remain over the overall quality of their squad.

One interesting sub-plot though is the Victor Matfield question.

Whatever one’s thoughts on his comeback are, it’s for now a blank page.

But there seems to be a lack of emphasis on his expected impact within the Bulls’ ranks.

It’s all well and good saying his return needs to be managed, yet when Ludeke does introduce him, the intent to add value needs to be there.

It’s not a case of a coach coming on in the guise of a player.

Either way, it’s going to be an interesting, if somewhat messy night.

 

 

 

 

 

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