Loftus still a fortress‚ insists Bulls captain Pollard

12 April 2019 - 14:06 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
The Vodacom Bulls stand-in captain Handre Pollard has called for improvements from his teammates.
The Vodacom Bulls stand-in captain Handre Pollard has called for improvements from his teammates.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Bulls have flattered to deceive at home in this Super Rugby campaign but captain Handré Pollard insists that Loftus Versfeld Stadium remains an intimidating place for visiting teams.

Two of their three losses in the competition so far have been in Pretoria to the Chiefs and the Jaguares and Pollard has asked his teammates to improve in front of their own supporters in Pretoria.

“We haven’t always got the results that we wanted over the past few years but Loftus is still an unbelievable place – you just feel it when you drive in there‚” Pollard said this week as the Bulls prepared for the Chiefs‚ who are fresh from a win over the Stormers in Brisbane last week.

In recent years‚ the Bulls have not performed to their expected high standards as they have failed to qualify for the Super Rugby playoffs in six years. Pollard maintains that Loftus remains a fortress.

“Loftus has a great history in the past with the glory over the years and it is special in its own way‚” he said.

“For us it’s still a fortress‚ but we have to keep winning there because it won’t mean anything if we don’t win.

“Nobody will fear us and it is up to us to get the respect and the fear back to the sides when they come here.”

Pollard also highlighted the importance of beating overseas teams to be successful in the competition.

“We have done well against the South African sides‚ as results show‚ but you have to win against overseas sides and not just at home but away.

“You have to win at least two matches on tour. Our record at home is an elephant in the room but we are not going to focus on that – we will just do what we do and whoever wants it the most will end up getting it.”

Having lost their last match to the Jaguares‚ coach Pote Human has asked the players not to drop the ball again at home.

“We can’t afford any more slipups at home. If we stick to our processes‚ the scoreboard will look after itself‚” Human said.

“If we play the way we are capable‚ we can put on a good show on Saturday. We have to finish our chances. There were so many opportunities that we didn’t take last weekend and I think we can score some tries on Saturday.”

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant‚ 14 Johnny Kotze‚ 13 Jesse Kriel‚ 12 Burger Odendaal‚ 11 Jade Stighling‚ 10 Handre Pollard (captain)‚ 9 Ivan van Zyl‚ 8 Paul Schoeman‚ 7 Hanro Liebenberg‚ 6 Marco van Staden‚ 5 RG Snyman‚ 4 Jannes Kirsten 3 Trevor Nyakane‚ 2 Jaco Visagie‚ 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Corniel Els‚ 17 Simphiwe Matanzima‚ 18 Wiehahn Herbst‚ 19 Thembelani Bholi‚ 20 Roelof Smit‚ 21 Embrose Papier‚ 22 Manie Libbok‚ 23 Divan Rossouw

Reds: 15 Hamish Stewart‚ 14 Jack Hardy‚ 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia‚ 12 Samu Kerevi (captain)‚ 11 Aidan Toua‚ 10 Bryce Hegarty‚ 9 Tate McDermott‚ 8 Scott Higginbotham‚ 7 Liam Wright‚ 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto‚ 5 Harry Hockings‚ 4 Izack Rodda‚ 3 Taniela Tupou‚ 2 Alex Mafi‚ 1 JP Smith

Substitutes: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa‚ 17 Harry Hoopert‚ 18 Ruan Smith‚ 19 Angus Blyth‚ 20 Angus Scott-Young‚ 21 Moses Sorovi‚ 22 Duncan Paia’aua‚ 23 Jock Campbell