Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee has warned his teammates against complacency as they prepare to face Benetton in Saturday's PRO14 Rainbow Cup Final, live on eir sport 1.
The South African side travelled to Italy on Tuesday and and wasted little time in settling into their surroundings as they prepare for Saturday's final at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo in Treviso.
Having spent five years at Ulster, Coetzee is accustomed to facing European sides but he admits they have had to adjust to different interpretation of the rules, especially with regards to high tackles.
"One thing we've verified is that particularly in the high-tackle cases, they are really more cautious here in the northern hemisphere. So, I think our body height in the tackle has to be squeaky clean, because they are very quick (to penalise) when it's just a little above the top. That can change the whole game for you – especially in finals time, when you really want all your personnel on the field,” Coetzee explained.
“Particularly around the breakdowns … it's a bit looser, a bit more open-minded and stuff. We have to adapt according to that, and stick to our structures and do what got us to the final."
While Benetton finished top of the northern table, the Bulls emerged victorious from their mini-league in South Africa and are favourites to take the title. Coetzee, however, insists they are not in Italy for a holiday.
“This is the difference between a competitor and a champion – you have to be able to adapt with that mindset. Every guy must take ownership in that role, make sure he does his homework and does what he needs to do," he went on.
“We have class coaches that can also help us with that, and to keep on reminding us what is at stake and what is needed to win this game. The final is 50-50 on the day, and small margins like that … you don't really want to be the cause that can cost you the final.”
He continued: “They play a high-tempo game. With the ball-carriers, it's not just the normal ball-carries – they play a distribution game and put a quick tempo on the game. It's something that we will have to adapt to very quickly. Coming here in summer time, it's particularly hot here now, so the biggest thing is to adapt to those circumstances and get our structures right,” he said.
“They have a very good set-piece platform that they thrive on, and managed to beat sides in the past – if you take the Glasgow game, that basically turned their whole season around.
“It will be about who is the hungriest on the day, and we must use our opportunities as well. That is when young guys must become men as well.
“They will do their homework, and have a few former Bulls players in their camp and will know what to expect.
“It was a bit loose in the first half against the Sharks, but we just need to stay calm and back our strengths in terms of what brought us to the final.
LIVE coverage on eir sport 1 from 5pm on Saturday, 19 June