Blues wary of lowly ranked Bulls

Blues coach David Nucifora says that as the Bulls are sitting low in the league table they are now an even more dangerous team.

Two successive defeats on the road have left the defending champions sitting in 11th place. In contrast the Blues last minute win (17-14) over the Stormers sees them sitting in third place.

But coach David was today wary of the challenge the Bulls would pose at Eden Park.

“Desperate teams are always more dangerous,” said Nucifora in the NZ Herald.

“There’s no doubt about that.”

Nucifora noted that the Pretoria-based side had brought back Springbok No 8 Pierre Spies, who has been out for eight months with a lung problem.

Winger Bryan Habana is also due to return to action after a shoulder injury kept him sidelined from the 43-27 defeat to the Chiefs last weekend.

“They’ve managed to bring back some handy players,” Nucifora said.

“They’ll probably have their strongest team running out there this weekend.”

Nucifora meanwhile has made four changes to his starting 15 probably most importantly Nick Evans has been included.

Nucifora said Evans had recovered from his head knock, inflicted by teammate Nick Williams’ elbow, and would play against the Bulls.

Joe Rokocoko who came off the bench against the Stormers, replaces Anthony Tuitavake, who drops out of the 22.

Nucifora said that it was a case of giving Tuitavake a rest after his heavy workload.

“He’ll have a heavy workload after this match as well for the remainder of the season,” he said.

“We just want to make sure we look after him.”

The other changes are in the pack with flanker Justin Collins coming into the loose forward trio for No 8 Nick Williams, who gets a spell on the bench.

Nucifora said Williams, who left the field midway through the second half against the Stormers with a shoulder problem, was fine.

Williams had “just a bit of wear and tear” and the aim of putting him in the reserves was to freshen him up.

At loosehead prop, Tony Woodcock returns to start in a swap with Nick White, who goes to bench and will also be the back-up hooker, with Tom McCartney being given game time in club rugby.

Nucifora said flanker Daniel Braid had come through his first Super 14 match after off-season shoulder surgery without any hitches.

Braid was originally meant to play about 50 to 60 minutes against the Stormers, but ended up clocking the full 80 because of Williams’ early departure.

“He didn’t like me on Sunday because he was pretty sore,” Nucifora said.

“Fitness-wise and confidence-wise, it was great for him to play 80 minutes. It will probably speed up his contribution over the coming weeks.”

With Braid, last year’s New Zealand player of the year, coming up against the likes of Schalk Burger and co last Saturday, Nucifora said his shoulder was given a good test.

“He’s got no worries about it whatsoever,” he said.

“He did a comprehensive rehabilitation programme and he’s back to full strength.”   


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