Ideally Marais would like for his team to play the kind of rugby that will get bums on seats at Loftus Versfeld but the reality is that his team are far from home and all that will guarantee them fans when they get back home to Pretoria is winning on the road.
Marais has played open cards with his team ahead of their crucial clash against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday and has resisted the temptation of changing his team from then one which annihilated the Western Force 42-20 last week.
Continuity and momentum have become the buzz words from Marais’ mouth and for a moment, the tough disciplinarian has abandoned his stance of demanding that his team play attractive rugby while winning.
With the Bulls having emerged as one of South Africa’s hopes of making the play-offs and making an impression in this year’s competition, Marais is willing to sacrifice the aesthetic look of his team’s play for a chance of competing for provincial rugby’s Holy Grail.
An unchanged team won’ t only mean that the Bulls will come into the game with momentum but the rich vein of form that most of the players find themselves in at the moment, will be an imposing challenge for a Brumbies team that is one of the best in the competition on their day.
“They (the Brumbies) will stick to what they do well and that is a good set-piece and they are one of the most structured teams in the competition. They will obviously be looking at bouncing back at home and it will be important that they stick to the same things they do well and have worked for them in the past,” Marais said.
The coach is unapologetic about his ambitions for his team and the fact that they might need to place flair at the sacrificial altar at the expense of returning home undefeated.
“ For us we want to improve every week but it is also about winning, especially on tour. I’ ve said to the guys that it is important for us to keep it simple. I don’ t want these players to get intimidated by playing away from home and the kind of opposition we face.
“The guys must believe in themselves and play the same game we played last week but just do it better.”
The only change in the match day 23 is on the bench where Dan Kriel has replaced Dries Swanepoel.
Having showed enough flair and ingenuity on attack and the right attitude on defence against the Force, the Bulls have proven that they have what it takes to beat the Brumbies in Canberra.
However, they will need to amplify their effort and play the best game of the season thus far if they are to defy history and their detractors and truly earn the status of being South Africa’ s hope for the play-offs.
That they will have to do by continuing on their winning ways regardless of whether they play the most attractive rugby or not.
Bulls: SP Marais, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Lizo Gqoboka, Werner Kruger, Jannes Kirsten, Roelof Smit, Rudy Paige, Tian Schoeman, Dan Kriel. – The Star
Original source: Bulls happy to take ‘ugly’ wins