Janko Swanepoel says the Vodacom Bulls are fully focused on the Currie Cup derby against the Lions on Saturday despite a pending trip to Wales next week for a crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship encounter with Ospreys.
With the side from Pretoria having cemented a spot in the URC playoffs, and also holding a commanding position in the Currie Cup, which is also nearing the knockout stages, much public talk has been around the Bulls being on the verge of playing playoff matches in two competitions.
Currently, in sixth place in the URC, the Bulls will be able to finish inside the top four and secure a home playoff with a win in Swansea next weekend, if other results go their way.
However, on Saturday the two-time defending champions will host a Lions team that – boosted by a number of URC regulars – pushed the Cheetahs to the brink in Johannesburg last weekend. As a URC playoff spot is unattainable, the Lions will likely field another strong starting lineup as they look to get their first win in the Currie Cup this year.
“All the focus is on the Lions this week, because every game in the Currie Cup is important for us, just to keep that top spot on the log,” said Swanepoel ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We take it game for game, and after the Lions, then we will start focusing on the Ospreys game.”
The Bulls are on the back of an important 48-38 win over the Griquas last weekend at home. Despite the bonus-point win, the side had a few lessons to take from the game, including not letting their guard down before the final whistle.
“So, for us, it is important to focus for the full 80 minutes. We need to begin like we did against Griquas last week, and just stick to that. We are chasing the full 80 minutes this weekend against the Lions,” said the Bulls lock.
The opposition for this weekend may not have had the best of results so far this season, but the 22-year-old Swanepoel believes that does not take away the danger posed by the side from Johannesburg when they square up.
“We cannot take the Lions lightly,” said the second rower.
“We saw how they played last week. They almost beat the Cheetahs [losing 35-26]. It was just the discipline that cost them in the last few minutes of the second half.
“So, we must just prepare for a tough game, and you can never know what might happen.”
Swanepoel has been instrumental to the Bulls team this season – both in the Currie Cup, where he has featured as one of the frontline players, and in the URC, where he has often provided cover for the evergreen duo of Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp.
The Bulls will name their team for the match on Friday.
The match will kick off at 5pm on Saturday and be televised on SuperSport.
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images