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Ken Borland

A few options when locating the source of the Bulls’ motivation, but the past is not their focus

Posted on June 22, 2023 by Ken

There are a few options when it comes to locating the source of the Bulls’ motivation for their United Rugby Championship match against the Stormers in Cape Town on Friday night, but captain Ruan Nortje said on Wednesday that their focus is not on the past.

Nevertheless, losing their last three matches against their great rivals, including the inaugural URC final, will certainly rankle. But there is also fresh motivation in the sense that beating the Stormers will maintain the Bulls’ ascendancy in the race to this season’s South African Shield. Defeat would allow the Stormers to leapfrog the Bulls into second place on the overall log, with a game in hand.

If all that fails, then the fact that it is the classic North/South derby, in the tradition of Northern Transvaal versus Western Province, should suffice for motivation.

“Last season’s final was obviously difficult for us, but that’s rugby – you win some and you lose some,” Nortje said. “The Stormers are a very good side and deserved champions and we respect them a lot.

“But this is a new season and a very important game on Friday night. We have put the past behind us and we’re just focused on the road going forward.

“The North/South derby week is always massive for our coach, Jake White. He’s a very good coach and he knows what he is doing. He’s definitely working on us mentally in a good way and he will definitely have us prepared.

“The past is behind us, it was tough to lose in the final, but it was a special game to be part of and this is a new and exciting week,” Nortje said.

The Bulls lock expects the Stormers to attack them again at scrum time, while the visitors could target a sometimes flaky lineout that will be without injured Springbok second-rower Salmaan Moerat.

“Last season we struggled in the scrums so we worked a lot on that in the off-season. The Stormers have if not the best scrum, then one of the best,” Nortje said.

“Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe are world-class and the scrums will be a big test to build momentum. It’s going to be a massive challenge, but we are very excited about it.

“I think scrum time will play a big role, we must not give away penalties there. It’s also always a big tussle in the lineout and I look forward to that too.

“I’m very sorry for Salmaan, he’s a brilliant player and it’s always lekker to test yourself against the best. But the Stormers have quality in depth, Marvin Orie is still there and he will take whatever young lock they choose under his wing,” Nortje said.

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    Philemon 1:7 – “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

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