JJ Engelbrecht

Back home in the Cape

2013-07-11 14:34
Sport24 columnist JJ Engelbrecht (File)
Despite our 20-19 win over the Sharks this past weekend, as a side we are still aiming for an all-round improvement against the Stormers this Saturday.

While we stopped the Sharks’ momentum pretty well, I felt that at times our structure and shape wasn’t great and we subsequently made a number of errors. However, a hard-fought win is always welcome ahead of the playoffs and prepares a team for the pressures.

There are a number of factors, which have contributed to our success this season. We have forged a great team spirit and every player is willing to improve and work hard. While I agree with those who suggest that we have a good mix of youth and experience, our policy at the Bulls is that if a player is good enough, he’s old enough.

Personally, I am really enjoying my rugby of late. The switch from wing to centre has been a good move for me and offers a different dimension. Centre is certainly my preferred position as it allows me to be more involved in play and get my hands on the ball more often.

I relish the responsibility of making decisions in the midfield both on attack and defence. These days, in order to be a really strong player, one has to possess a great all-round game. While defence is an aspect of my game that has improved, I believe that it can get even better. One can never stop learning and should never be satisfied.

I have definitely enjoyed my midfield partnership with Jan Serfontein this season. He is an exciting young player and has a great future ahead of him. In terms of play, he offers a lot to our game on both attack and defence and his injury is a blow.

However, Francois Venter is also a quality player and brings strong organisational skills to the side. I have played a few games with him this season and feel very comfortable lining up alongside him. It’s crucial to have a good relationship with one’s inside centre and communication is key in order to defend as a unit.

While I will be facing my former team at Newlands on Saturday, I see it as just another game against the Stormers. In a competition such as Super Rugby with so many local derbies, it’s only natural to face your mates on a regular basis.

Having partnered Jean de Villiers in the Springbok midfield during the June Test series, I am well aware of the national captain’s credentials. He is an excellent decision-maker and organiser on both attack and defence.

Having missed out on the playoffs this season, the Stormers have nothing to lose and will be a dangerous prospect. I expect the Cape side to play some exciting rugby this Saturday.

From a Bulls perspective, it’s key to stick to our structures and focus on aspects of our game we want to improve upon ahead of the playoffs. A win on the weekend will enable us to remain in Pretoria for the playoffs, which could well prove pivotal.

Engelbrecht, 24, earned his Super Rugby and Springbok debut in 2012. Follow him on Twitter @JJ_Engelbrecht
Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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