Matfield: Bulls want to score tries in Super Rugby

Bulls stand in captain Victor Matfield has reaffirmed that Pretoria Super Rugby franchise will play an expansive game in 2015 as they want to score tries.

The Bulls face the Stormers in their opening Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and Matfield says that they want to win matches by crossing the whitewash rather than choking the life out of the opposition.

“We want to go out and score tries — if you don’t score tries you won’t win this competition. If you look at the stats each year, it is almost always the team that scores the most tries that wins it,” Matfield said in Pretoria on Wednesday.

“So it is about scoring tries and we’ve worked hard on that, especially playing from broken field, so hopefully we can score some nice tries this year.”

Matfield will lead the Bulls onto the field in the place of Pierre Spies, who will be eased back into the starting XV after nearly two years on the sidelines.

Spies’ place at the back of the scrum would be filled by Arno Botha, who was also returning from a long lay-off after he last played for the Bulls in 2013.

“Pierre will be playing off the bench as an impact player and we felt that would be the best option for him this week while we are starting off with Arno,” coach Frans Ludeke said.

“There is no specific reason, it is just for Pierre to make his comeback off the bench.”

Meanwhile, Ludeke named three of his new signings from the Cheetahs in his run-on side with hooker Adriaan Strauss, prop Trevor Nyakane and flanker Lappies Labuschagne starting on Saturday.

Strauss made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls in 2006 where he featured in eight matches before his move to the Cheetahs, playing 97 matches for the Bloemfontein franchise.

Piet van Zyl had been entrusted with the number-nine jersey and would form a combination with Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard, while Rudy Paige would supply cover off the bench.

Francois Hougaard, who had been the regular scrumhalf, would be on the wing, a position he was equally adept at playing.

The Bulls played Saracens in London last week in a pre-season friendly where, Ludeke said, a lot of decisions were made for them.

“There are a few things that almost helped us with the selection there, with Akona Ndungane and Travis Ismaiel not fit, while Hougie played well against Saracens there,” he said.

Matfield said the Stormers would be the perfect team to gauge where they were at the start of the season.

“They are dangerous off turnover ball, so hopefully we won’t give them too much of that and we can hold onto the ball,” Matfield said.

“Especially with our defence we hope to force some turnovers and that is usually where the tries lie.”

Bulls

Jurgen Visser, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Handre Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Jacques du Plessis, Werner Kruger, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane.

Replacements: Callie Visagie, Morne Mellet, Dayan van der Westhuizen/Neethling Fouche, Grant Hattingh, Pierre Spies, Rudy Paige, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Jesse Kriel.

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