Bulls

More tackles and less hugging from Olivier

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South Africa centre Wynand Olivier says there will be no love lost on the field when he and the Bulls go head-to-head against several of his Bok team-mates playing in the Sharks side at ABSA Stadium on Saturday.

A total of 28 players from both outfits have been selected to join Springbok coach Jake White’s training camp in Bloemfontein the day after the Final in preparation for the two-Test series against England.

Sixteen of those players hail from the Sharks squad including outside centre Waylon Murray, who earns his first Springbok call-up.

Olivier has been a prominent feature in the Bok line-up since making his debut against Australia in the Tri-Nations last year and will want to show Murray how things are done in the midfield.

“There certainly won’t be any hugs on the field, but afterwards I think we might have quite a few things to talk about over a couple of beers,” Olivier told this website.

“A lot of the guys are friends with each other from both camps, so whatever happens on the field stays on the field.

“It’s going to be a massive challenge and both teams are going to give it their all.”

Perhaps spare a thought for the Bulls players that won’t be receiving a handshake followed by the “congratulations at making the Bok squad” speech by their future colleagues at the post match dinner.

Instead, players like fly-half Derick Hougaard and loose-forward Pedrie Wannenburg will be getting a pat on the back followed by the “better luck next time” speech.

This must be a disheartening thought that has got to play on the unfortunate players’ minds going into such a big game like this one.

“Yes, there were quite a few guys that should count themselves unlucky not to be selected,” sympathised Olivier.

“But at the end of the day they are professionals and I don’t think it should bother them too much come kick-off on Saturday.

“Hopefully they’ll put it at the back of their heads and just do what’s expected of them.”

Hopefully we can expect the unexpected from the Pretoria-based side instead. The Bulls have been renowned to keep things simple when it comes to sealing a win.

With the weather expected to be a scorcher (reportedly reaching 30 degrees Celsius), perhaps some surprises could be in store for the sold-out stadium.

“I don’t think so, we just going to go out there and play the game like we know it,” said Olivier.

“We are playing a bit different this year by using the backs a bit more. So hopefully the forwards can give us a lot of ball and we can perhaps then make something of it.”

I’m sure the Bulls’ fans won’t mind where the points come from as the blue flags find their way into ABSA Stadium to wave their heroes on. Its no Loftus Versfeld, but the support from the stands is sure to be the same.

Olivier is relieved to be playing the Super 14 Final in Durban instead of another team overseas as the Bulls centre prepares to pack his bags for the eagerly awaited clash with the Sharks.

“It’s always difficult playing away from home. But I must say it will be much better playing in Durban than travelling overseas!” said a relieved Olivier.

“The Sharks are a big outfit and there’s no denying they’re in good form at the moment.

“Playing them in their own backyard is really going to be a big challenge for us.”

As it turns out, had the Sharks lost their semi-final encounter to the Blues last weekend – it would be the Bulls hosting the first ever Super Rugby final in South Africa since the game turned professional.

Perhaps the hype of two South African teams locking horns for the first time in the tournament’s history has left the Springbok midfielder a bit concussed.

Lets be honest, if any betting person would put money on two South African franchises making history on three accounts – hosting both semi-finals, hosting the final, and fielding two South African teams in the final – he or she would be very rich indeed.

So with all the excitement flowing through South Africa at the moment, one wonders how the players must be feeling with all the hype surrounding them?

“The mood in the camp is very good, especially with Bakkies (Botha) and Fourie (Du Preez) back in full swing,” said a relaxed Olivier.

“The guys are looking very positive about the weekend, it’s going to be a good contest.

“Obviously the guys have been overwhelmed with the amount of attention given by the media and some are just taking their mind off things by playing golf and spending time with their families to get away from the hype.

“But at the end of the day it’s just another game.”

Perhaps Olivier and his Bulls team-mates can afford to relax heading into an encounter as big as this one. They have become quite accustomed to preparing for knockout matches over the past few years.

“Yes, the fact that we’ve played in the last four Currie Cup finals and the last two Super rugby semi-finals may count in our favour as far as high pressure games go,” said Olivier.

“But on the day you can’t really say that. It will go down to what team who really wants it the most.”

By Dave Morris 365 Digital 

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