Reputations count for nothing in Super Rugby, Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard has warned that on the back of two major signings for the Pretoria-based franchise before the start of this year's competition.
Springboks Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen have been added to the squad after stints at clubs in Europe, adding considerable experience to an already generous tally of internationals in the squad.
Pollard said this was no guarantee of success in the annual southern hemisphere competition.
"Of course it helps to have Duane and Schalk with us," he said.
"But it doesn't matter how many Springboks you have in your team; Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world and reputations count for nothing.
"Teams have to pitch up at their best every weekend," he added.
The South Africa flyhalf is arguably the key player for the Bulls amid heightened expectations this year, after they finished bottom of their conference with six wins and 10 defeats last year.
Pollard steered clear of any predictions for the three-times former champions, though.
"There were some positives last season and we want to improve on that," he said.
The Bulls have lost coach John Mitchell to the England set-up, with Pote Human taking over.
"There are always challenges because each coach has his own ideas," Pollard said.
"But we are taking a lot over from last year with a few changes here and there."
The Bulls begin their campaign at home to the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Feb. 16.