PRETORIA – Springbok and Blue Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl believes that Western Province are beatable ahead of their highly-anticipated Currie Cup semi-final clash to be played at Newlands on Saturday.
Van Zyl is under no illusion of how difficult it will be playing the defending champions in their back yard especially after the Cape Town based side put 34 points on the Bulls in one half of rugby in their rain drenched derby at Loftus last weekend.
While Province have easily been the best team in the competition enjoying a six-match unbeaten run so far, Van Zyl has no doubt that his teammates can cause a major upset if they put their best foot forward.
“They’ve been very good in this Currie Cup. Stats don’t lie, they have won six out of six. They are a very good team, but they are not unbeatable. They’ve been playing very good rugby, their forwards have been good giving them a lot of front-foot ball.
But we know exactly what it is and what is going to be required of us as a team to get the win. Everyone is going to (have to) be at their utter best in this team to go do it but we definitely have the belief to go down to Newlands and cause an upset,” Van Zyl said.
The Bulls confidence stems from the fact that Saturday’s semi is a once off and they believe with a good plan and accurate execution, they will break the hearts of the Newlands faithful.
“We definitely believe so. We are in the fortunate position where we actually didn’t do anything this past Saturday. We know exactly what we need to do and how to beat them. We are going in there as underdogs, but we as a team believe (we can) beat them and we know exactly how.
It’s a semi-final anything can happen but it is going to come down to can we execute the plan and if we can do that I believe that we can win this game,” Van Zyl said.
Van Zyl knows all about breaking the hearts of WP after his late try in the 2016 semi-final at Loftus handed the Bulls victory.
The 23-year-old Pretoria born Van Zyl says he will look to draw motivation from what happened two years ago and there will be no better place than Newlands to do so.
“I actually saw a video of it this past weekend again. That was a special moment for me. That was the only game I played the whole season for the senior team, I actually played Under-21 that whole year. Piet van Zyl got injured and I needed to fill in there and I got seven minutes and it was the best seven minutes of my life.
Hopefully I can draw some confidence out of that and I think it is going to be another close game. We need to be ready to fight for 80 minutes like we did then, winning it at the end. We will need to be ready for 80 minutes even if it is longer we are going to have to be ready and hopefully get the same result,” added Van Zyl.
Van Zyl is the second player from Affies to play at scrumhalf for the Bulls and Springboks after Fourie du Preez
On his battle with Embrose Papier for a starting berth at the Bulls and Boks, Van Zyl said: “It is great for us that it is a semi-final week and there is not as much pressure as a Test, but there will be a little bit of pressure. We need to know how to handle it because that is what Test match rugby is about especially as No 9s being able to relieve the pressure and making good decisions.
“So for me and Embrose we still have a lot to learn, but we are communicating and working well together and boosting each other. Obviously both of us want to be there and play, but at the end you can only focus on your job and what makes you good.
“If I keep on working hard and he keeps on working hard at the end it will work out. It is great to get some game time, you don’t want to be thrown into the deep end without playing any rugby. I’m very fortunate it’s going to be my fifth Currie Cup game so I at least got some game time.
“If I get an opportunity to play for the Springboks again, I know I’m not having a lack of game time. There’s nothing better than playing Western Province down at Newlands and coming back with a win. As a Bulls guy through and through, there is nothing better than that and that is where my heart and focus is right now.”