Many teams coming to Loftus Versfeld these days try to ignore the effects of height, but one factor the Bulls hope Munster won’t be able to sidestep during their United Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria on Saturday is the late afternoon heat of a summer day.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 4.05pm and, based on the weather forecast for Pretoria this week, the temperature could still be 28°, a far cry from the 7° where Munster shuddered on Monday.
“We hope the conditions at home will give us a bit of an advantage,” said Bulls fly half Chris Smith.
“The coastal teams are competing with heights here and hopefully the sun will shine on Saturday.
“Hopefully it’s cooking before 4pm kick-off and that heat may be more important to us than the altitude. We hope we can chase them across the field while the sun is out.
“We want to make them tired and hopefully the game will start a little later. But it will be a nice challenge for us to measure ourselves against top players in the URC.”
Smith, 27, is currently a key figure in the Bulls side, with Morne Steyn suspended and Johan Goosen injured, and he has enjoyed very good performances against both Zebre in Parma and Griquas in Kimberley.
“I have certainly felt the pressure because I have mainly played on the bench for the past two years. I haven’t played many full ’80s,” Smith said, “but I see it more as an opportunity.
“It is more the pressure I put on myself to take advantage of this opportunity than any external pressure.
“I’ve been working on getting flatter and more in the face of the defense. I tend to lean back a bit. Sometimes I rely more on my passing game than my running game.”