Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
14 Jan 2022
8:30 am

Bulls pumped to make early statement in Currie Cup

Ross Roche

The defending champions are in Mbombela first-up for a match against the Pumas.

The defending champions in the Currie Cup, the Bulls, take on the Pumas in the opening game on Friday night, pumped to get off to a good start. Picture: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

The Bulls are pumped to get South Africa’s premier rugby competition under way as they take on the Pumas in the opening match of the 2022 Currie Cup at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday evening (kickoff 7pm).

It should be a thrilling match-up with the Pumas keen to utilise home ground advantage and get one over their rivals, while the Bulls will want to start their competition off on the best note.

“The Currie Cup is a premier competition in South African rugby. We always like to make it special for ourselves, the young players and all the supporters out there,” admitted coach Gert Smal.

“So we are working hard behind the scenes with the senior players to see if we can get their experiences shared with the youngsters and to just pick up the quality of the Currie Cup to what it was in the past which is very important for us.”

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The visitors have named an experienced team featuring a number of United Rugby Championship players including Cornal Hendricks and Elrigh Louw to take on a tricky Pumas side that is very tough to play on their home turf.

“I think we have a couple of top players not involved and we have a couple of exciting youngsters coming in, so this is just the way we are managing the squad,” said Smal.

“It’s not easy to get the balance right and get both teams (Currie Cup and URC) well prepared for games on Saturday, Wednesday and then Saturday again. So it’s a nice challenge in a new environment and I am really enjoying it.

“We all know what a tough team they are, especially when you go up and play them in Nelspruit. Jimmy’s (Stonehouse) teams are normally highly motivated, so we will expect quite a hard game and we have to be ready if we want to win this one.”

Bulls captain for the game Hendricks also highlighted the threat of the Pumas while admitting his side were more focused on their own game.

“They are a quality side, they have a lot of energy at home and are very physical. But we are focusing more on ourselves, we have prepared well over the week and are ready for Friday night,” said Hendricks.