Kirsten feels Bulls have to get basics right against Leinster

Jannes Kirsten of the Bulls. | BackpagePix

Jannes Kirsten of the Bulls. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 12, 2024


Mike Greenaway

Jannes Kirsten says it is the “no-talent” part of the Bulls’ performance against Leinster on Saturday that will lay the foundation for victory in the United Rugby Championship semi-final.

By that, the flanker-cum-lock means the no-frills aspects of the game that are up to the individual because it is hard for the coach to gauge them.

“To stop a machine like Leinster you have to get the basics right. There are a lot of no-talent things each player can do,” Kirsten said.

“It is things you can’t measure like how hard you scrum, how hard you maul, how much effort you put into the tackle, how quickly you get back up. It is hard to measure those things but how hard we are willing to work against a team like that will be our foundation.”

Kirsten says that against a virtual Ireland team masquerading as a club side, there is no place to hide.

“You have to meet them head-on,” he said.

“Leinster have a lot of Test players and they will exert pressure from their set pieces and their ability to keep the ball for long phases, but it is in our hands. It is about working hard, hanging in (there), and then trying to blast them away.”

Something the Bulls have to fix in their own game is their infuriating trend of blowing teams away in the first half an hour and then going to sleep.

“We have spoken about this for a while now. We can’t be having decent leads only to leak late tries,” Kirsten said. “It is a focus point for us.

“At times we put the pressure on ourselves by being untidy at the restarts — last week against Benetton we gave away four scrums from that area. It is miscommunication and that is something we can fix within a week.”

As an impact player, Kirsten says his role can change from game to game depending on the match situation.

“Coming off the bench, all you want to do is make an impact, but sometimes it is difficult because it is not necessary and the team needs to slow things down to get it right. It is only when you are behind that you are required to do something special.

“I think we have improved from the Sharks (a fortnight ago), we have to get to get together and focus for the last 20 of the game.”

The Bulls have lost potent attacking weapons Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse but Kirsten says the squad is in a much better position than last year to deal with the blows.

“It is not good timing to get injuries before the play-offs, but our squad has grown. From last season to this season, we lost Morne Steyn and Bismarck du Plessis to retirement. We did not lose many and gained a lot. Sergeal Petersen is a great player to have coming on for Kurt-Lee.”

Chris Smith won the URC Golden Boot on Tuesday. | Supplied

Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith, meanwhile, won the URC Golden Boot prize as the season’s most accurate place-kicker.

Alessandro Izeko (Benetton) and Jamie Ritchie (Glasgow) were yesterday also announced as the respective winners of the Tackle Machine and Turnover King awards. The URC will later this week announce the winners of the awards for Top Try Scorer, Ironman, Try of the Season, Next-Gen Player of the Season, Elite XV, and Innovation Award.

The final three awards – the URC Player of the Season, Coach of the Season, and the Player’s Player of the Season, will be announced next week ahead of the Grand Final.