His charges impressed with the intensity and pace of their play in scoring three second-half tries in the 30-13 win over the Cheetahs in Polokwane and then running in six tries in the 39-26 victory over Saracens in London.
“We were able to work on certain areas in those games and they gave us exactly what we wanted to help us get our whole game into gear, plus the results went our way. I was impressed with how we protected our ball at the breakdown and our decision-making both on attack and defence,” Ludeke told The Citizen.
His post-mortem did, however, include an admission that the scrums still require work ahead of their SuperRugby opener against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday.
“The Saracens game was a great test, exactly what we wanted. They were good at the breakdown, scrums and mauls and we took a lot out of that game. I’m not worried about the scrummaging, there’s just a few small adjustments needed and we have the ability to do well there. But it’s going to be a huge contest in that area against the Stormers and the scrums will be a focus point next week,” Ludeke said.
His efforts in that regard are complicated by the absence of prop Marcel van der Merwe for three-to-four weeks due to a medial knee ligament injury, but lock Flip van der Merwe, out for two months with a torn pectoral muscle, is the only other first-choice player currently unavailable.
SuperRugby is going the way of American Football in terms of franchises having huge playing squads and Ludeke is delighted by the depth created by the way several youngsters performed in the two warm-up games.
Hanro Liebenberg looks to be the heir apparent to all the wonderful other loose forwards who have made their names at the Bulls, while fellow youngsters like Jacques du Plessis, Marvin Orie, Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel and Jesse Kriel all have airs of confidence about themselves too.
“It’s exciting to see that talent and credit to the recruitment team for getting those players to Loftus. The way those players reacted against very proper opposition, with several international players, creates good depth for us,” Ludeke said.
The Stormers, ever the bridesmaids and never the bride when it comes to SuperRugby, will come to Pretoria after a tumultuous build-up that has seen their squad hit by several injuries, the suspension of lock Gerbrandt Grobler for steroid use and the announcement that coach Allister Coetzee will be leaving Cape Town.
But the Bulls are taking nothing for granted.
“Next week is when the actual competition starts and we have to take the same energy and momentum into the game against the Stormers. We have to play with accuracy against them. Our first three games are at home, which is ideal, but it’s crucial that we make a good start,” Ludeke said.