Bulls expect ‘titanic’ battle

The Bulls may have had a near perfect start to their Australasian tour, with historic victories over the Brumbies and Waratahs. But they have made a concerted effort to keep their feet planted firmly on the ground.

Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has warned against unrealistic expectations as the team tackle the second part of the five-match trip – games that will see them face the defending champion Crusaders, the Highlanders and Hurricanes on New Zealand soil on consecutive weekends.

“We must keep our feet on the ground,” he said as the team started the build-up towards their encounter with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of enough hidings in this competition, so we must remain realistic.

“We didn’t start the competition well and it was always going to be a tough tour. Yes, it is great to win the first two [tour matches], but there is a long road ahead and it is important that we stay focused,” he added.

Meyer said he is “realistic” about the game this week, even though there are those who feel the Bulls should have the beating of a Crusaders team minus seven top All Blacks.

“We also have a lot of players out. We have two top tightheads out, we have [Springbok hooker] Chiliboy [Ralepelle] out, [Bok loose forward] Pierre Spies [out injured] would have started, our two top centres are out now – Wynand [Olivier, injured] and JP [Nel, suspended], as well as Roetsie [fullback Johan Roets].

“Then I’m not even talking of [Bok flank] Tim Dlulane and [fellow loose forward] Johan Wasserman.

“We are certainly not at full strength,” Meyer told this website.

Despite the fact that the Crusaders are still minus their top All Blacks, who will only return from their World Cup conditioning programmes in Round Eight, Meyer believes they are still capable of beating any team on a given day.

“The one thing about this Crusaders side, as they showed on their tour of South Africa, that they are capable of beating anybody. Against the Sharks, one of the tournament’s form teams, they could have won if they had kicked for touch at the end. They put 48 points past the Cheetahs.

“They are the type of team that can destroy any side and especially in Christchurch they can give any team a 50-point hiding.

“It is vital that we realise this is going to be a titanic battle [in Christchurch],” Meyer said.

Meyer felt the loss of burly centre JP Nel – who incurred a three-week suspension for a swinging arm strike on Waratahs loose forward Rocky Elsom – is going to be very disruptive.

His new midfield combination of Springbok Wayne Julies and young Marius Delport have never played together at this level.

“It will be a huge test for us in midfield,” Meyer said.

The Bulls coach, who said he had no qualms about the suspension handed down to his star centre, called on the SANZAR hierarchy to find a way to ensure there is more consistency in the citing process.

“I must make it clear that I don’t have a problem with JP’s three-week ban, but I have a problem with the lack of consistency in not citing other players,” Meyer said.

“There was a blatant head-butt in Bakkies Botha’s face, there was also an elbow in his face and nothing was said about either of those incidents. It is not our style to cite afterwards, but there is inconsistency and I just don’t know what the solution is to that.

“Earl Rose [Lions fullback] head-butted an opponent [Doug Howlett of the Blues] and nothing happened.

“In the game between the Brumbies and the Reds there was a big punch-up and nothing happened, Ben Tune [who regularly gets involved in off-the-ball incidents] was involved.

“Another very good example was the encounter we had with the Waratahs last year. Rocky Elsom landed six, seven punches and got banned for just two weeks. JP [Nel] struck the guy with the forearm, just once, and t

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