Bulls

Matfield: ‘Bulls won’t panic’

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The Bulls, by their own lofty standards, may have made a poor start to the Super 14 season, but they are not yet ready to hit the panic button.


Bulls captain and world class lock Victor Matfield said they will stick to what has worked for them in the past and won’t allow one misfire to derail a carefully planned campaign.


Speaking ahead of his team’s Round Two encounter with the Cheetahs, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday, Matfield made it clear that they are confident in their ability to recover from the disappointing loss to the Sharks in Durban last week.


And even though there is now a perception that their game plan is in need of some tweaking, he said they have no plans to deviate from what is a well-known strategy.


“We created opportunities [against the Sharks] last week through our structure, but we simply did not use them,” Matfield told this website.


“As the game [against the Sharks] went on the pressure became more and we became panicky, when we should have stayed calm,” he added.


He pointed out that it is not the first time that one poor performance were followed by suggestions that the Bulls should change their game plan.


“We’ve been in situations before where we started badly, but we know our structures work – so we won’t deviate from that.”


He is well aware that they can’t afford any further slip-ups, as it would leave them almost too much ground to make up later in the tournament.


“Yes, it is the First Round and it is indeed a long competition, but every game you lose you are four points further behind, so it is important that we get back on track as soon as possible and start winning,” he said.


Matfield spoke at length about the disappointment within the team for the below par performance against the Sharks in Durban, but he was also quick to acknowledge the threat a team like the Cheetahs would poser this week.



“The Cheetahs are a very structured team, they are a well-drilled and well-coached team.


“I think they are one of the team’s that impressed most in the First Round, so yes, it will be a big test for us,” he said of their all-South African derby this coming Saturday.


The Bulls captain said they realised again last Saturday how vital it is to use the few opportunities that come your way in the Super 14.


“There were a few chances [to score against the Sharks] which we didn’t use, but that’s how this competition is – it is merciless. If you don’t use your chances you are going to be in trouble,” he said of the 17-3, three tries to none, loss in Durban.


He said they had identified all their shortcomings during a video session this week and don’t intend repeating those errors against the Cheetahs.


“Our biggest problem was handling. Yes, the humidity was high and the ball was wet. However, we gave away 24 turnovers and 80 percent of those were through handling errors.


“That [high number of handling errors] is simply not good enough by our standards,” he added.


The Bulls captain said it doesn’t matter if they play another South African team or one of their Australasian rivals, to them it is all about their own game and the standards they set for themselves.


“In the Super 14 it doesn’t matter what team you play, it is all the same. So it doesn’t matter if it is back-to-back [all-South Africa] derbies, we simply have to lift our game,” Matfield said.


The big veteran lock forward said he is also not quite satisfied with his own game and standards.


“I feel okay, but not quite as sharp as I would have like to have been. Even though I played 40 minutes and a full game in the pre-season outings, I am not where I want to be.


“The fitness levels and everything feels okay – it is just a case of being match ready.


“Hopefully this Saturday we can take another step closer to that level where I’ll be happy with my game,” he said.


By Jan de Koning


365 Digital

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