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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Hanro Liebenberg © Gallo Images

New slate just what the Bulls ordered

The Vodacom Bulls are a new team, starting from a clean slate that want to show exactly what they are worth in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

These are the views of Bulls No 8 Hanro Liebenberg, who captained the team at stages last season under Nollis Marais but is excited to see what his side can bring to the 2018 competition.

Liebenberg believes the change of style of play and mentality will make a massive difference for the side in this year’s campaign under new coach John Mitchell and he sees stark differences to their approach last season.

“We are a new team with a new mentality and a new approach to things so I would definitely say we are a new team. Thinking wise, playing wise we are a much different team to last year and that’s what makes everyone positive going into the season. I think everyone is very hopeful and excited for the season,” Liebenberg says.

Key to their approach this season will be scoring points. Fans had a glimpse of that from a Bulls side in last year’s Currie Cup and now believe they can take it a step further. But the belief needs to be translated into points, and in a competition where teams are unforgiving on mistakes, this will be their biggest challenge.

“I think it’s not a good or bad start,you can never relax or get comfortable even when you are on your best. That is something we have to work on especially when we are playing away from home.

“Getting points and scoring tries that will be one of the key focus areas for us. Most of the teams that played in the semifinals and finals are teams that score tries. But with that also comes a good defensive structure and keeping them out. So it is a bit of both attack and defence,” Liebenberg adds.

Like most of his teammates, he believes the crowded four match pre-season was necessary to build them up for the season.

“I think we had a good preseason. We had three warm-up matches and one against each other and our preparation was good. The team we played against mostly played the Hurricanes structure, that put us under pressure at times and gave us a good idea of what the Hurricanes are going to bring. They are always physical and also bring an intensity to their play. It is going to be a tough one for our first game but we are up for the challenge.

“I think in the preseason what we did well was manage the time you play and the time you are rested. That is something that is going to be good and everyone’s bodies are still feeling fresh. Coming into a season that is one of the most important things. Not going into the season fatigued or over trained is where we will be good at this season and will be of benefit to us coming to the end of the season.

Personally Liebenberg hopes to stay injury free this season and to progress as a player, as with most of the Bulls players his time on the field was cut short by injuries last season. The new regime however, have mostly managed to get the players fit and ready for the season opener, something that has been a problem in the past.

“To stay injury free, and to get through the season. I want to get as much time on the field as I can, the more time I get on the field, the more experience I will get. After all I am still learning, and I take it game for game and know what will happen will happen. In my head I have my own goals and believe that if I give my best week in and out it will happen. For me it is to be at my best every week”

While it is easy to be positive before the start of the season, Liebenberg knows the proof is in the pudding, so to speak and the talking needs to be done on the field. The Hurricanes are a stern test for the young side in their first Super Rugby outing under a new coach. They need to prove to their fans, and to themselves, that they are taking steps forward.


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