Bulls wary of Griquas backs
Pretoria – He has played in more than 100 Super rugby games and over 50 Tests, and on Saturday Springbok Danie Rossouw will play his 99th Currie Cup match – as an eighthman.
The versatile Rossouw’s return to the Blue Bulls team for their last league game in the competition – against Griquas in Kimberley – is one of many positive things with which the Bulls can build up steam for their preparation for the important game.
Griquas have nothing to lose and all the motivation to end the season on a high in front of their home crowd, while the Blue Bulls need to get at least one bonus point in the match to ensure they are still involved when the top four sides play in the semifinal.
It is exactly their experience of knockout rugby and a focus on their own race that instils the Bulls’ calm and purposeful approach, assistant coach Johann van Graan believes.
“Our policy has always just been to focus on our own race. We’re not approaching the game any differently than any other Currie Cup match in Kimberley. It remains an away game against a very good side. The first goal will be a win and a bonus point will indeed be a bonus,” he said.
Van Graan is well aware of the home team’s danger men and the threat they pose to the Bulls’ dreams of a second title in two years.
“Sarel Pretorius, Naas Olivier, Bjorn Basson and Riaan Viljoen are all game breakers and danger men.”
However, all of them are backline players and the Bulls have found a very effective way over the past month of limiting the contribution of such ball-carriers.
That has been achieved by dominating the contest up front. And with the heavy artillery back in Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Rossouw, the same tactic will again be used.
“We will be hoping that the returning players do not disrupt the rhythm and that the new combinations will gel quickly,” said Van Graan.
“But we are very happy with the way things went against Western Province. We won all our scrums (5 out of 5), lineouts (9/9) and kick-offs, so we’d like to build on that. There is a lot of experience returning in the pack and we’d like to use that.”
The coach expects the heat to be a factor in Kimberley.
“The ball was only in play for 30 minutes and 36 seconds against WP, while it was in play for 42 minutes against the Lions. That is down to the heat. We are again playing at 15:00, so we expect it to have an influence.”
Rossouw is likely to make up the loose forward combination with Dewald Potgieter and Derick Kuün.
Okkie Kruger, who not only scored a try on Saturday but has also won the most turnover possession for Bulls in the Currie Cup (9 against the 8 of Kuün, Flip van der Merwe and Stefan Watermeyer) has been released to the Springboks Sevens team to participate in the Commonwealth Games in India.