Blue Bulls face tough start to Currie Cup

The Blue Bulls will face a tough start to their Currie Cup campaign as they have two matches on the road starting with a Jukskei Derby against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Light Blues were unstoppable at home during this year’s Super Rugby competition but were awful on tour, losing all their away matches.

“It is not about playing away or at home. You get mental confidence in a game when you are getting the yards and putting the points on the board,” said Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.

Ludeke said the fiercest battle would be fought between the two packs of forwards, considering the Lions performance up front during the Super Rugby season.

“They have a very competitive pack of forwards. They ended the (Super Rugby) competition as the best team in the scrums.

“In the match at Ellis Park, in the set-pieces, they finished a lot stronger than us and we know we have to get right.

“In local derbies the set-pieces are top priority — if you don’t get it right, you battle to get going as you can’t dominate the gain line.”

The Lions have managed to hold onto most of their players who were involved in Super Rugby, and have not lost anyone to the Springboks.

The Bulls were in a slightly weaker position, having lost five players to national duty but having a more settled look compared to the youthful side they fielded last year.

Both teams will have debutants at inside centre with Harold Vorster starting for the Lions and Burger Odendaal playing his maiden Currie Cup match for the Bulls.

The Bulls will be looking to end a four-year Currie Cup drought and improve on their fifth place finish from last season.

The hosts in turn featured in semi-finals in the two years since winning the coveted gold cup in 2011, and are seen as pre-tournament favourites.

With the competition expanded to eight teams and the Pumas and the EP Kings added to the lineup from last year, teams can afford the odd defeat compared with last year’s strength-against-strength format.

Ludeke said the Currie Cup would, nevertheless, be a tightly contested affair and they were looking for a positive start.

“This competition is a sprint, there aren’t a lot of games, so you must be accurate from the first game.

“We felt we played to our full potential at the end of the Super Rugby competition and that momentum went into our three weeks of preparations.”

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