PRETORIA – The Bulls will effectively start on a clean slate following their first bye weekend, with the Chiefs providing a new challenge this weekend at Loftus Versfeld.
The Pretoria side claimed a clean sweep of the local franchises but Bulls utility forward Hanro Liebenberg said they would have to make the step up to play the New Zealand sides.
The weekend’s match is effectively South Africa’s best against New Zealand’s bottom dwellers but Liebenberg warned against complacency.
“Playing against New Zealand sides is where we are really going to be tested and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Liebenberg said.
The Chiefs have lost four of their first five matches including heavy defeats to the Brumbies, Crusaders and Sunwolves before playing to a 23-23 draw with the Hurricanes over the weekend.
The Bulls currently top the South African conference log with 13 points from 4 matches
Liebenberg played a pivotal role in the team’s success in the opening month of the competition where he contributed both as a loose forward and at lock.
He was forced into the second row for their match against the Sharks after the Bulls first lost captain Lood de Jager, then Eli Snyman.
Liebenberg looked at home at lock in their 37-14 victory over the Sharks which he said was thanks to a short stint in that position when he was on loan to Stade Francais.
“Playing lock in France made it quite easy when they put me in that role two weeks ago,” Liebenberg said. “As long as I play, as long as I get the ball and contribute it doesn’t matter in which position I play.”
The 23-year-old Liebenberg said he would not mind spending more time in the second row as it did not only highlight his versatility but added value to the team.
“Nowadays, if you can cover more than one position it is a benefit to the team, so I really don’t mind playing lock of loose forward,” Liebenberg said.
But his time in the second row may be short-lived with Snyman making a full recovery from a shoulder injury.
He was among eight players who have been given the all clear and would be up for selection this week.
While Liebenberg was still finding his feet at lock he said he would be up for the challenge of facing up to imposing Chiefs captain Brodie Retallick, who is considered one of the world’s best second rowers.
“He (Retallick) is probably one of the best locks in world rugby so it is going to be a real test
“I will have to bring out my best lock game this weekend and even though I don’t have the experience, the heart will match Brodie Retallick.”