Mitchell's Bulls set for Hurricanes opener

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    21 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the world player of the year may be a doubtful starter for the game after his later arrival in South Africa, and his lack of pre-season play with the side.


Mitchell told, "I wouldn't be surprised if he features at some point. He is world class and a high performance athlete so I wouldn't think he is too short of a gallop. I have read in the media that he is still good for 40 minutes. If he plays that is great, even better.

"You want this competition to have the best players playing."

Mitchell also wasn't concerned about having his first game back at Super Rugby level against a New Zealand side.

"New Zealand sides have set the standard in this competition since 2014 and they just keep getting better and better. The competition doesn't come down to one game but it is important to get the right performance so you can build from it," he said.

"I actually think it is cool starting off against a New Zealand side because it creates greater attention to detail because they have so many more attacking threats and they can expose you at any point in time without the ball.
"If you don't look after the ball as well, they can hurt you. We've got our plan as well. The guys are nice and calm and we'll take each day as it comes and rip into it on Saturday," he said.

The Bulls pre-season has been notable for the effort that has gone into their conditioning and achieving a higher degree of fitness.

"You are never comfortable but the important thing is to build confidence in people, and team cohesion. We've made some good strides in those areas but against New Zealand teams you're going to have to go the full 80. You're going to have to play the total minutes and that is what this game will come down to – the ability to play right to the end," he said.

Like most sides the Bulls have suffered some injury setback. Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo had some knee surgery in Sweden that will keep him out of action for two months while centre Franco Naude is out for four months after a shoulder operation. Sevens forward Tim Agaba who had a hamstring injury and locks Aston Fortuin and Jason Jenkins, who both suffered AC joint injuries, will join the side next week.