Super Rugby preview
The Bulls need a Plan B
Greg Growden and ESPN Staff
February 14, 2013
Springboks super boot Morne Steyn remains key for the Bulls. © Getty Images
Greg Growden believes the Bulls must adopt a fresh game plan if they are to challenge for a third Super Rugby title.
Last season: qualifying finals, second in South African conference; the Bulls enjoyed a successful season in their first year post-Matfield-Botha-du Preez, scoring 472 points and tallying more tries than all but the freewheeling Hurricanes in making the finals. But they were disappointing somewhat in the meek manner in which they were eliminated by the Crusaders.
Key man: Morne Steyn remains the dominant player for the Bulls, primarily for the way he kicks points and gains position - particularly at Loftus Versfeld - with his tactical kicking. He and Francois Hougaard also combined for 11 try assists to show their importance to a team that often still plays close to the ruck.
Rising star: Arno Botha, 21, already has 10 Super Rugby caps, and pundits in South Africa predict a very bright future. He possesses all the stereotypical attributes of a South African backrower, and he toured the northern hemisphere with the Springboks in 2012.
Season preview: The Bulls have a very stable roster, with minimal movement in and out of Loftus, so we seem likely to get version 2.0 of the 2012 team. The two-time champions will look to grind positions of dominance, tactics that can often lead to high scores against visiting teams in Pretoria.
Greg Growden's verdict: There's been great mirth in the Super Rugby ranks about the Bulls employing Victor Matfield as an attack coach this season. Why? It sounds such a redundant position, as the Bulls haven't attacked for years. Instead, the Bulls have been obsessive about possessing big forwards, and then booting everything down town. That's not surprising when they've boasted such monsters as Matfield and Bakkies Botha and such a deft kicker in Morne Steyn. With Matfield and Botha no longer playing, the Bulls have to find a Plan B. Time is running out.
Tip: Third in South African conference. Finish: 11th overall.
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