Bulls captain Ruan Nortje gears up for ‘world class’ Exeter Chiefs

Bulls captain Ruan Nortje gears up for ‘world class’ Exeter Chiefs

Bulls captain Ruan Nortje gears up for ‘world class’ Exeter Chiefs

Bulls captain Ruan Nortje looks on during a game.  Credit: Alamy

Bulls captain Ruan Nortje looks on during a game. Credit: Alamy

Bulls captain Ruan Nortje is delighted to be back to winning ways against the Dragons last weekend and hopes to continue his winning streak against Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup.

Before last week’s game, the Bulls had lost three in a row, conceding more than 100 points in the process and were without their director of rugby Jake White, who has successfully undergone emergency abdominal surgery.

handled the pressure

Nortje acknowledged the pressure the team was under and was proud of how his players adapted to the conditions to claim the relief win.

“That game was huge for us,” Nortje said Tuesday. “We were under a lot of pressure, me personally, as well as the team and the management. We are very happy with the character we displayed.

“It wasn’t perfect, but we were much better in that game, especially when it came to our discipline. That was a big point for us. People who weren’t there won’t understand, but the wind made it very cautious. It was very tough conditions, especially in the first half when we played against the wind.

“It was huge for our confidence,” Nortje said. “We know how important that is when it comes to rugby. When you lose two or three in a row, it looks like you’re the worst team in the world. But an away win, especially, brings a lot of confidence. We know how difficult it is to win away from home.

“We were very happy with the victory on Friday, especially as we look forward to these next three weeks. It will be very hard for us. So that win was important to reassure the guys that they are good enough to be here.”

The second row were unwilling to blame their mistakes on any external factors and simply want to get the basics right as their side prepare for a fascinating clash against Exeter at Loftus Versfeld this weekend.

“I wouldn’t put the error rate against Dragons on any external factors like travel. It still wasn’t one of our better performances. We left a lot of opportunities out there that could have led to tries. When we took penalties, we returned the ball to them and that put pressure on us, instead of keeping them in their field. It’s a lot of little things like handling errors and turnovers. The ball was very slippery, but that’s no excuse.

“There’s a little more concentration on Saturday to keep control of the ball.”

difficult challenge

The skipper praised Exeter for its quality and history, expecting a great match in Pretoria where discipline will be key.

“Exeter were the 2020 champions of both the Premiership and the Champions Cup. We know what’s coming. It is a world class team. They want to surpass you, go through phase after phase and take you to the front. In every facet of the game, they want to kill you.

“So for us, it’s important to keep our focus and keep the penalty count as low as possible. It’s going to be a physical battle, so we’ll have to step up in all departments.”

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The Champions Cup article: Bulls skipper Ruan Nortje preparing for ‘world class’ Exeter Chiefs first appeared on Planetrugby.com.

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