It could turn out to be the last game Bulls legends Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw play at Loftus Versfeld, but they will not let the occasion distract them from achieving their goal of beating the Sharks in their Super Rugby match on Saturday.
“We’ve got a competition to win and we said at the start that we will sort those things out after the season,” Matfield said on Wednesday after Bulls coach Frans Ludeke announced his team for the clash.
“We just want to do well and we are trying to get those emotions out of the way.”
As expected, Botha will make his 100th appearance for the hosts on Saturday, having been selected to start ahead of Rossouw in the second row.
Du Preez also returns from a knee ligament injury, but will be starting from the bench.
“He [Du Preez] recovered very well and worked hard with the medical team and conditioners,” Ludeke said.
“It has really been a big blessing for us having him back so quickly.
“He had a whole week with the team so it is great to have him back, although he will be playing in a different role from the bench. He is 100% fit.”
A special day
As for Botha — best known for his role as the team’s enforcer — the fact that he will lead the team out to battle on such an important occasion will not be as special if the result doesn’t go their way.
“Like Victor said, I’m not looking into it too much,” said Botha.
“It is a special day to share with guys like Victor and Fourie but my main focus is going into the role I must play in the team and the 100th cap is just a bonus.
“We won’t be spending our time and energy on this milestone as we have a job to do and that is to win against the Sharks.”
Last week the Sharks fought back from a 21-point deficit to record a 30-30 draw against the Lions in Johannesburg.
And while both Sharks captain John Smit and coach John Plumtree have expressed concern with the team’s recent inconsistency, Ludeke insisted that whatever may happened in the past will have no bearing on Saturday’s derby.
“We are expecting a Sharks team that will be on the spot this weekend and you can’t expect anything else,” he said.
“We will have to control what we can control. We also have a strategy and we will have to ensure that we implement that for 80 minutes.”
Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Gary Botha, Rossouw de Klerk, Flip van der Merwe, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez, Francois Brummer, Akona Ndungane. — Sapa