Limerick Rugby

Springbok Legend Matfield is backing Vodacom Bulls

SPRINGBKOKS legend Victor Matfield believes the Vodacom Bulls have a realistic chance of finishing top of the BKT URC. Matfield’s former team currently lie third in the table, nine points behind league leaders Leinster Rugby.
But Leinster now face challenging back-to-back games out in South Africa, against the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers, while they also have to travel to Ulster Rugby.
In contrast, Jake White’s Bulls have four successive home games against Munster Rugby, Ospreys, Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Rugby before completing the regular season by taking on the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Durban.
Having bowed out of the Investec Champions Cup with a quarter-final defeat away to Northampton Saints last weekend, they will now be firmly focused on their bid to win the URC title for the first time.
They are likely to be fully loaded for Saturday’s meeting with reigning champions Munster in Pretoria, having rested a number of their Springbok stars for the trip to Northampton.
World Cup winner Matfield, who spent the best part of a decade playing at Loftus Versfeld, is thoroughly looking forward to that key contest.
“I think Bulls v Munster, numbers three and four on the log, is going to be a big game,” the former second row told a BKT URC round table.
“There has been a lot of talk about the team that Jake took over for the Champions Cup at the Saints.
“So this is a big game for the Bulls to win.
“They look at this competition and they believe that they need at least a home semi-final.
“They are probably hoping, with Leinster being in South Africa, and it looks like they won’t bring their strongest side over, that there might just be an opportunity for them to even finish first on the log, if Leinster lose one or two games over here.
“The Bulls have got five games left, all of them in South Africa, so they will back themselves to win five out of five.
“But I think this is probably their toughest game this weekend.
“Munster showed us last year what they can do when they came over and beat the Stormers in the final to win the competition.
“They are a quality side, so that is going to be a very interesting game.
“Then the Bulls would love the Lions to do them a favour by beating Leinster. It won’t be easy, but it’s an opportunity for the Lions.”
Matfield feels his former team are now better equipped to push for the BKT URC title than in previous seasons.
“I think the Bulls have got their mix right.” he said.
“They have got a few very experienced guys and they have also created a lot of depth in their squad, whereas last year they probably overplayed the guys a little bit.
“Us South Africans are still new to this double competition. In the old days, with Super Rugby, we were used to getting it done and then moving to Test matches, then we would have Currie Cup.
“Now we have the two competitions running together and we still have to make sure we understand how to use our squads.
“I think this year the Bulls have used it better.
“The loss against Leinster showed they still have quite a way to go if they want to compete regularly with the top sides.
“But I think this team can beat any team on the day.
“They have got a very good pack of forwards, their scrum is really stronbably the strongest in the competition when Wilco Louw is playing.
“Then they have got the back three that has got magic.
“Last weekend, against Northampton, they didn’t have all their Springboks there.
“But, if they have got the right guys there, I think they have got a team that can beat anyone.”

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