Losing game winners like Makazole Mapimpi and Masixole “Coyi” Banda has motivated Border Bulldogs players to play their hearts out in the hope their talents are noticed by Super Rugby teams.
This is according to flanker Siyabulela Mdaka who is expected to lead the team in their first SuperSport Rugby Challenge clash against the Boland Cavaliers at the Wolfson Stadium in Zwide, Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
It will be the first competitive game the Bulldogs will play without the try scoring machine and influential utility back.
But Mdaka believes other players will step up and deliver for the East London franchise.
“Obviously, we would love to have them here but I trust the guys that we have. This is a motivation to the guys because if they know that if they put in a good performance, they can play Super Rugby next season or even this season for that matter,” he said.
Interim coach David Dobela would have planned for life without Mapimpi and Banda who were snatched up by the Southern Kings following their impressive display for the Bulldogs in the team’s Currie Cup First Division superb run last season.
During the off season the Bulldogs also had competitive friendly games against the Southern Kings, EP Kings, SWD Eagles and the Sharks.
Mdaka said they would be looking to start the tournament on a high in their opening South Pool game.
“This is a very important game for us. It is good to have a good start in any competition so that the confidence will be high in the team.
“It will be very important to get the momentum going with a win. The guys are excited. We’re ready. We have no worries or excuses and are looking forward to Sunday,” the ever hard-working flanker said.
In their pool, the Bulldogs will be up against the Boland Cavaliers, EP Kings, SWD Eagles and the DHL Western Province.
The 15 teams that will be playing in the tournament have been divided into three geographical pools, with each playing home and away matches against the other four teams in their pool over the 10-week period. Six-pool matches will be played every weekend for 10 weeks, followed by seven knockout games.
The top two teams from each pool, together with the two third-placed teams with the most log points, will qualify for the quarter-finals, which take place on Sunday July 2, followed by the semi-finals a week later and the final on Sunday July 16.
Mdaka is hopeful that they can go all the way as long as they do not deviate from the coaching staff’s instructions.
But they will be taking it one game at a time, starting with Boland, which he described as difficult opponents.
“What will be very important will be the effort, keeping our structure and sticking to the basics then the scoreboard will take care of itself.
“Winning is very important but we have to do those things first,” he said.
“We will be taking the game to them. They are not an easy side so we know we are up for a good game.”