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The Bulls squad assembled for the first time on August 14 and have been training on field for the past two weeks ahead of the four-team premiership. The last time the Bulls met the Falcons it ended their season with a 14-34 loss.
“They’re the benchmark in terms of the competition,” said Bulls coach Andrew Auimatagi.
This year’s side will be co-captained by Hornby half Tevin Arona and Linwood prop Alex Todd, taking over from James Baxendale who has chosen to concentrate on playing duties this season.
Arona helped the Bulls make their last grand-final appearance in 2016, but has spent the last two years in Auckland before returning to Christchurch earlier this year. He will combine with fellow Hornby half Brad Campbell who impressed in his debut campaign 12 months ago.
“He [Arona] adds a lot of leadership in the halves,” said Auimatagi.
“With Brad [Campbell] now in his second year of the premiership I’m excited to see how they’ll shape.”
Auimatagi is also aware of the importance of every minute of the three match round-robin. Last year the Bulls missed out on a spot in the final due to a a points differential eight points worse than Counties Manukau.
“There’s no time to take the foot off the pedal. In the past it’s come down to small periods in play that have let us down.”
Saturday’s match at Auckland’s Pulman Park kicks-off at 3pm.
Bulls squad: Tevin Arona, James Baxendale, Michael Butson, Brad Campbell, Jordan Coleman, Caius Fa’atili, Jiordan Fidow-Kele, Thoren Fidow-Kele, Ben Ilalio, Alani Kakoi, Danny Latu, Rulon Nutira, Vinnie Paul, Matthew Sauni, Roger Tafua, Jope Tagicakibau, Alex Todd, Keletisia Tongo-Tongo, Brad Austin, Justin Lynch.