Vodacom Super 14

Battle of the front rows

2010-05-19 22:36
Werner Kruger (Gallo Images)
JJ Harmse

Pretoria – The only time there was a reference to Ben Franks in the previous game between the Bulls and Crusaders was when the visiting front-ranker’s hand touched the ball and Francois Hougaard scored the winning points.

However, that does not mean that Franks is not doing his job in the Super 14 team. In fact, it is in champion teams like the Crusaders and Bulls where the front rows are particularly strong.

Werner Kruger is seldom spoken of at the Bulls, but is one of their most valuable players on a weekly basis.

Statistics prove the fact as he is regularly among his team’s top three when it comes to cleaning rucks, while his scrumming, defence and support play are also worth a lot.

Last year he was also one of the Bulls’ best “cleaners” in the Super 14 and Currie Cup.

It is therefore not surprising that Kruger, who played for the Emerging Springboks against the British and Irish Lions last year, is making it into rugby writers’ Springbok teams more often.

That in itself does not mean a great deal, but does acknowledge his form.

Kruger himself prefers to do his talking on the field and believes that hard work was the reason for the Bulls’ strong scrumming this year.

“Yes, it’s about team work and working together. The nice thing about playing at the Bulls is that the guys play for each other. With scrumming they scrum together and that makes it easier,” he said.

Kruger believes the Crusaders will test the Bulls up front.

“They’ve got a good pack and a good front row, but we’ll be ready. We rested well and are ready to pull this one through together,” he said.

One reason offered for the improvement in the scrumming at the Bulls is the return of Gary Botha at hooker.

For Botha, who last played in a semi-final of the competition in 2007, there are many reasons why he believes the Bulls will come out on top again.

“The team grew in the two years that I was away. The guys will not allow external factors to bother them anymore. They are using something like the suspension of Bakkies Botha as positive energy. We told one another after our return from the tour that there are six weeks in which we can make this Super 14 an unforgettable one.”

Botha believes they know how to beat the Crusaders in the knockout phase.

“The Bulls have played in numerous semi-finals over the last four or five years. You learn how to handle it and, more importantly, how to win. It certainly won’t be an unfamiliar feeling.

“Both teams know what to expect and the team that ‘pitches’ on the day will get the reward.”

Read more on:    bulls  |  crusaders  |  super 14  |  werner kruger

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