Julies puts Bulls on High(landers) alert

Bulls centre Wayne Julies, one of the most durable players in South Africa, has warned his teammates not to underestimate the Highlanders’ ability to play an expansive game when the two sides go head-to-head on Saturday.

The Bulls, aiming to put their Australasian tour back on track after their disappointing performance in going down 32-10 to the Crusaders last week, will face one of New Zealand’s most physical and structured teams in a Round Eight Super 14 outing in Dunedin.

Despite having never won at New Zealand’s infamous House of Pain, Carisbrook, it is not the venue that concerns the South African tourists, but rather the qualities of the opposition – the Highlanders.

“Yes, they are indeed one of New Zealand’s most physical teams,” Julies told this website from the Bulls’ base in the holiday resort of Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand.

And after having faced two Australian teams – with their multi-phased, ball in hand approach to the game – and then having lost to the tournament’s most effective counter-attacking unit the Crusaders, it would require an adjustment from the Bulls when they face the Highlanders.

“However, a lot depends on what the quality of their possession is, as to what style of rugby they will play,” Julies said.

“They are certainly capable of playing an expansive game. Yes, they are probably the most physical team in New Zealand, but if they get quick ball from the breakdown or quick turnovers, they will run with it or take it wide to the wings.

“We’ll have to be alert for when they decide to take the ball wide and we are prepared for such an eventuality.

“It is vital for our play-off aspirations that we go into the game and produce a winning performance,” Julies added.

The Bok centre, who is hoping to force his way back into World Cup contention after missing out of both Tri-Nations and year-end tour selection in 2006, said the Bulls are keen to rectify the mistakes they made against the Crusaders.

“We are switched on for this game and we are looking forward to playing the Highlanders,” Julies added.

After years of battling injuries and then losing form, Julies said he is happy with the progress he has made since joining the Bulls from the Lions this year.

“Obviously I can do a lot better, but I now have a chance to establish myself in the starting XV and I will do my best – not just for me, but also my team,” the 28-year-old Julies told this website.

Julies – who earned his starting spot after fellow Bok Wynand Olivier got injured earlier in the season – said he would like to improve on his attacking game, if he gets the opportunities.

“In the coming weeks I would like to pay a bit of attention to that part of my game, to show that I can play an open, expansive, attacking game.

“But that [the style of rugby] will be determined on how the games pan out.

“If the opportunity is there for me to attack I will put my hand up and do the job and if it is required of me to defend I will stand up and be counted in that department also,” he added.

He said he does not regret for one minute the “big” decision to move across the Jukskei from Johannesburg to Pretoria.

Julies was full of praise for the role the Bulls’ new Attack Coach, Australian Todd Louden, has played in his progress this year.

“I’ve slotted in nicely into what he is coaching and the Bulls also adjusted their game. The tactics will differ from game to game, depending on the opposition and conditions, but I’m happy to adjust to whatever game plan is required for a specific opponent.”

He said, having finally overcome all the injuries, he now hopes to remain fit and strong and ultimately force Bok coach Jake White’s hand into selecting him for the World Cup squad.

After making his debut as a fresh-faced junior against Spain at the 1999 World Cup, Julies missed the next fo

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