Pretoria - Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman is looking forward to this weekend’s Jukskei derby against the Lions at Ellis Park, knowing his last game in the Bulls jersey will be an emotional one.
Schoeman, who heads to Edinburgh after the game for his attempt to qualify for Scotland, said goodbye to Loftus Versfeld last Saturday in style with a good scrumming performance and some massive hits in the midfield that he enjoyed in their win over the Jaguares.
But come this weekend the set piece is a special place for him, especially as it may well be his last game in South Africa for a while.
“The set piece is going to be vital, especially the scrums and they have a good maul as well, like we saw in our first game against them at Loftus but our preparation has been good. We are looking forward to the challenge. Like you mentioned, let's call a spade a spade - it's tough and we are going to have to work for the points,” Schoeman told SuperSport.com.
He knows that Saturday could be sentimental for a number of Lions as well, especially the likes of his opposite number in the scrum - Ruan Dreyer. Depending on the outcome of the game, the Lions may well play their last game at their home ground in this year’s competition.
“It’s a very sentimental game for guys like that, playing their last Super Rugby games for a union that they’ve been at for more than a few seasons. It will be a tough one but we are looking forward to it and we grew immensely as a pack and a team as well, especially this season with coach Mitch. We have done a lot of work, especially in the pre-season in the scrums and set piece and we take confidence pride, and fix areas like the scrums and the mauls as well.
“It’s my last game as well, so directly after the Lions game I will be heading to Edinburgh in Scotland. It's very emotional, there are guys like Travis (Ismaiel) and Jaco (Visagie) who have been here since under-19. Our group is next and there are guys who have been here for five or six years, so it is emotional.
“One thinks you can stay here for 100 years but the opportunity is nice on my path, so one has to take that and look to that. But ja, the Bulls have been great to myself and looked after us this year and it will be a special one to finish with a match for the Bulls against the Lions this coming Saturday.”
One of the telling hits he put in against the Jaguares was a double whammy with loose forward Jannes Kirsten midway through the game that caused a turnover for his team.
“I’m so glad we could get the win against the Jaguares who are in good form, they’ve been winning for seven or eight games now winning streak. They are an international side. I’m looking forward to seeing Jannes again, he is top form now and he is getting better every week. That’s the scary thing when he puts the hard hits in, and the high line, when it works it works.
“I think it is only us and the Springboks that go high line in our country and it works, but you have to put the sacrifice in. There are a bit of niggles and joints, and it is painful afterwards but it is worth the while.”
Schoeman says he will miss his Bulls family, but he is looking forward to the new challenge in Scotland.
“I must say the mutual family feeling, you get that from the management down through to the under-19 and even down to the Bulletjie rugby. That Pretoria Bulls feeling, it is something very special and I must say the Bulls have been great to me and to other players and for that you will never say thank you enough.”
But first it is this weekend’s derby against the Lions that he will focus on, and especially the “three second fight” in the scrum.
“To be quite honest, on the game day, the front row that is the most focused and ready for the fight, the three-second fight, will come out on top. There have been guys who have played against a no-name guy and they get beaten in the scrum.
“We take confidence from that and the work we have put in and it is something you grow through a season. A scrum isn’t like a bicycle where you get on it and ride it. You have to work day in and day out and you have to manage where your work-ons are and where your weaknesses lie within the pack.”
Schoeman, known for his banter and singing off the field, is preparing a farewell song for his teammates on their team WhatsApp group this week. Depending on what happens in the scrums on Saturday it could be a song of celebration, or a sad song to say goodbye.
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