Callie Visagie

Maintaining momentum is key

2013-05-24 07:07
Sport24 columnist Callie Visagie (Gallo Images)

Super Rugby Match-ups

2013-05-23 14:38

Check out all the key match-ups in this weekend's Super Rugby action.

I’m enjoying my debut Super Rugby season at the Bulls. As I’m on loan from the Lions, I still reside in Johannesburg but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed commuting on the Gautrain to the Jacaranda City. 

Pretoria has less of the big city feel to it than Joburg does and for a boy originally from the Mother City, I like spending most of my spare time out in the open.

In terms of the playing side, as a team we are now looking strong atop the South African conference and from a personal point of view, it’s been great to be a part of that success. The whole squad system has functioned really well this season.

After a tough tour, playing in front of our home crowd gave us massive confidence. Stirred by that support, as a team, we realised the need to take a step up in terms of intensity.

The competition for the Bulls No 2 jersey is fierce but one that I’m relishing. I’m learning a lot from the likes of Chiliboy Ralepelle and Willie Wepener. Every player wants to be at the top of his game, so we push each other to perform. I would say that we have developed a friendly rivalry.

The Bulls have a proud history of producing some great hookers over the yearsand in terms of the type of rugby played and systems employed, one can only benefit from being part of that environment.  

The Bulls encourage their hookers to carry the ball in contact and as a mobile front ranker, that philosophy certainly suits my style of play.

Working with the legendary Victor Matfield this season has been a great privilege and a learning curve. I feel I now possess an even greater appreciation of lineout play.

With regards to the scrum setpiece, the ‘crouch, touch, set’ call, which was introduced at the start of season, has made a difference in terms of the distance between the two front rows.

The call has certainly closed the gap, which is a big plus.

However, I’m not convinced much has changed in terms of the high number of scrum resets. As we have seen this season, collapsed scrums remain a regular occurrence, which is never something spectators spend their hard-earned money to see.

A match that the rugby-mad South African public will certainly be happy to pay big bucks for though, is our clash with the Sharks this Saturday.

The Durban side are a quality outfit and their forwards in particular will present a stern test. They are highly physical, possess big ball carriers and much like us, use the rolling maul as a weapon. The Sharks base their game on getting over the gain-line and building momentum.

In terms of our game plan, I feel that we have found a fine balance between attack and defence. From the defensive side which Pine Pienaar runs, to the attacking element which Victor oversees, there has been a smooth transition between the two facets of play this season.

While we are in a favourable position on the log, the season still has a fair way to run and we must not forget that there are a number of local derbies yet to be played.

While the facing the overseas teams is always tough, I think the fact that the South African players knows each other’s strengths and weakness inside-out makes our home derbies even tougher.

As a forward, I naturally believe that the game this weekend will be won upfront. Whichever pack is able to dominate will be on the winning side after 80 minutes.

That said, the battle of the flyhalves promises to be an interesting matchup. There has already been a lot written and spoken about Morne Steyn’s impending duel with Pat Lambie.

Morne has been in strong form this season and tactically he has been on song.  I’m sure he will carry that momentum forward and spur on the rest of the side.

Callie Visagie, a Varsity Cup-winner, earned his Super Rugby debut in 2012.Follow him on Twitter@Callie_Visagie

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Read more on:    bulls  |  sharks  |  super 15  |  callie visagie  |  durban  |  rugby

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