Ivan van Zyl is driven by the Springboks and is not bothered by the Sharks
CAPE TOWN - The difference in Ivan van Zyl’s play this season has been noticeable, and of course Fourie du Preez has had a hand in that as a Bulls consultant.
But the 25-year-old halfback has put in the hard yards too, and it has resulted in him being the form scrumhalf in South African rugby.
He is pushing hard for a recall to the Springbok squad, having played the last of his six Tests in 2018, and that has been driving him in his final year at Loftus Versfeld before he joins English club Saracens in July.
Van Zyl has added a few sharp touches to his game, such as passing quickly from the base of a ruck or scrum, having a go at a gap around the fringes, or launching an inch-perfect box kick.
He just appears to be more commanding than the 22-year-old thrown into the deep end by Rassie Erasmus against Wales in Washington in June 2018, after which he never quite found his feet at the highest level.
If he had to play in a Test tomorrow, it would most likely be a very different outcome. “We don’t quite know what is happening with the British and Irish Lions tour, but it is a goal to give myself the best possible chance to be in a Springbok group again,” the former Affies scholar said yesterday ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Pretoria (3pm kick-off).
“I believe I got it right, to an extent. I controlled what I could control, and in the way that I play, I managed to mix things up.
“If you get chosen or not, that’s not in your hands. But I wanted to know that I’m good enough to play there again.
“If you have a coach like Coach Jake (White) … and he comes to you before the season starts and tells me certain small things – and what he likes and what he would want to see more of – then it gives you a freedom. He gave me a freedom as a player that I haven’t experienced before.”
But before Van Zyl can think of wearing a Bok jersey again, he needs to get the better of two Sharks halfbacks who are also pushing for higher honours: Sanele Nohamba and Jaden Hendrikse.
He feels that their chirping won’t bother him, and is rather banking on his team to take their opportunities to clinch a 24th title – even if the forecasted rain does arrive on Saturday.
“Whether it rains or not, will you use your chances that come your way? It’s not ideal if it rains, but if you want to win the Currie Cup, you must be able to handle anything.”
Meanwhile, Jaco Peyper has been appointed as the referee for the final for the fifth time in his career.
The TMO will be Marius van der Westhuizen, while Griffin Colby and AJ Jacobs will be the assistant referees.