Bulls captain Pierre Spies is determined to use the 2013 Super Rugby season as an opportunity to regain his Springbok starting place and says he is fit and ready for action again.
Spies missed the Rugby Championship and the Springboks end of year with a broken thumb but his form has started suffering well before the injury.
Spies knows that his former Bulls mentor and now Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is watching him closely and Spies wants to prove he deserves a starting spot with the Boks.
"I learnt a lot last year as captain. There is a lot of support in the team to make my job easier and it will be that way this year as well," Spies told Supersport.
"But competition is always good. My injury came at the right time and it gave me a lot more perspective, as well as a decent rest. It allowed me to recharge, to find a renewed focus and vision for the year ahead.
"It reminded me how much I want to play for the Springboks again. You always have to prove yourself, whether it is to the public, the coach or to yourself. "
"I know I owe myself a good season and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Spies says is excited about the new talent the Bulls have signed this year with the likes of Arno Botha, Jan Serfontein and Handre Pollard.
"You have to have a good squad in this competition, and we have a lot of depth this year which we will use."
The Bulls captain also hinted that the Bulls will make some minor adjustments to their game.
"I think it will be a new year with new energy," Spies smiles, "It will be a lot of the same, with a few changes here and there."
"Everyone is a year older now and we have a lot more experience. We know each other better and we're in a good space at the moment as a team.
"Last year was a difficult year for everyone, but we've had a good break and have returned more mature. We're really looking forward to the battles that await us."