Bulls coach Frans Ludeke feels the Bulls have adequate depth to avoid fading out of contention in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.
Despite losing several key players, the Pretoria side made it to the qualifiers last year.
However, a dip in form, which saw the three-time champions win just two of their last six games, meant they had to travel to Christchurch for their qualifier where they were promptly eliminated by the Crusaders.
A lack of depth forced Ludeke to overplay his star players and it became apparent at the business end of the competition that the demands of a lengthy campaign had taken its toll on the Bulls.
With the younger players now having a season of Super Rugby under their belt and with the addition of the likes of Handré Pollard, Jan Serfontein, Lionel Mapoe and Callie Visagie, Ludeke believes they have the depth to make a run at the title this season.
“Depth is all-important,” Ludeke told this website.
“The players understand our system and we’re happy with the depth we have at this stage. The squad have a greater understanding of our system and what we want to achieve.
“You can pick up two or three injuries in a week so it’s vital that you have quality depth to be able to bring in another player who can make the necessary contribution.
“Thus, the squad system is key. It’s one of the things that put us under pressure last year but we’re in a better position now. With depth being so crucial to a successful campaign, the young up-and-coming players are just as important as the senior players.”
Ludeke said Saturday’s pre-season friendly against the Cheetahs in Polokwane is another opportunity to assess the players and the gameplan ahead of the Super Rugby opener against the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on February 22.
“It’s a good opportunity for this big squad of 36 to get game time, to make sure everyone gets time on the field before the start of Super Rugby,” Ludeke said.
“For me it’s a chance to test our system and combinations and to see what works and what doesn’t. There’s still some time left after Saturday’s game to finetune our game.
“The result is secondary, it’s about the process, seeing where we are and working on a couple of things we identified in the off-season.”
Ludeke added that playing the Cheetahs will be a good challenge for his charges after the Bloemfontein side’s home win over the Stormers last weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity to play against a good team. They’re coming off a good win over the Stormers and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” Ludeke said.
“We know it’s going to be a good test for us, especially up front. They have a good pack of forwards and they like to take the ball through the phases so it’s going to test our defence.”
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