BULLS coach Frans Ludeke and Stormers assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot yesterday insisted that they would not focus on the Super Rugby permutations in their final round-robin matches, but set their sights on victories regardless of what happens in the other games.
On Saturday, the Stormers host the Rebels at Newlands, the Bulls meet the Lions at Loftus Versfeld and the Sharks go up against the Cheetahs in Durban.
Fortunately for title contenders the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks, they will know exactly how many log points they need to advance to the play-offs as well as the exact points difference required should they finish on the same number of log points as their Australasian counterparts.
As things stand, the Stormers trail log leaders the Chiefs by only one point, meaning they could have a shot at finishing the pool stages as the top team, which would earn them a home semifinal and possibly a home final.
The Bulls and Sharks will be hunting victories to shut out the Reds and Hurricanes.
But despite the anticipated peace of mind of the exact permutations as the overseas teams take to the field first, the coaches expected their sides to be at their best.
"We just need to make sure that we do what we have to ( to secure a quarterfinal spot)," said Ludeke. "The mind-set at the moment is that we make sure we get a result."
Said Proudfoot: "For us it is about securing the four points. We still need to cement a home semifinal because the Brumbies could still overtake us on the log, so we have to ensure that we capitalise on all the hard work we have put in to get to this point. The permutations are not important, our planning has been done to win this game."
As expected, the Bulls, Stormers and Cheetahs coaches yesterday placed their faith in the players who have delivered the goods this season for their clashes.
Ludeke and Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee made only one personnel change to their starting teams, while Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske made two injury-enforced changes to his starting side to face the Sharks.
In the Bulls side, veteran lock Wilhelm Steenkamp replaces Springbok Flip van der Merwe, who is nursing a hip injury. Ludeke selected two looseforwards on the bench, rather than calling up a replacement lock. This resulted in Bok flank Deon Stegmann returning after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Coetzee, meanwhile, dropped a bombshell by naming hooker Deon Fourie at No8, forcing Canada's Jebb Sinclair to the bench.
Fourie's switch to the back of the scrum resulted in Bok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg earning a start.
With two hookers in the starting team, Coetzee opted for two props on the bench.
"Deon is naturally skil ful and he likes to be first wherever the ball is," he told Sapa.
"At No8, he has a chance to break away from the set pieces and be first at the action . it's a move we had to try before the play-offs . Deon understands the engagement of the scrum and he has all the attributes that is required of a No8."
In the Cheetahs camp, No8 Boom Prinsloo will make his debut as a replacement for Justin Downey, who dislocated his finger, while wing Philip Snyman replaces Cameron Jacobs, who was ruled out due to a broken bone in his hand.
On the bench, Griquas scrumhalf Jacques Coetzee replaces the injured Tewis de Bruyn and centre Andries Strauss comes in for Snyman.
Zane Kirchner; JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson; Morn é Steyn, Francois Hougaard; Pierre Spies (capt), Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter; Juandrè Kruger, Wilhelm Steenkamp; Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Deon Stegmann, CJ Stander, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouch é, Francois Venter.
Willie le Roux; Nico Scheepers, Robert Ebersohn, Barry Geel, Philip Snyman; Riaan Smit, Piet van Zyl; Boom Prinsloo, Pieter Labuschagne, Heinrich Brüssow; Izak van der Westhuizen, Andries Ferreira; WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Hercu Liebenberg, Marcel van der Merwe, Waltie Vermeulen, Ashley Johnson, Jacques Coetzee, Sias Ebersohn, Andries Strauss.
Joe Pietersen; Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage; Deon Fourie, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi; Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp; Frans Malherbe, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Brok Harris, Deon Carstens, Quinn Roux, Jebb Sinclair, Louis Schreuder, Burton Francis, Gerhard van den Heever.