Cape Town — Jan-Hendrik Wessels doesn’t believe there is “something big wrong” at the Bulls and is confident that the Pretoria side can find their rhythm in Friday’s Currie Cup clash against Western Province.
And his own personal growth in his continuing development as a hooker is providing him with some confidence ahead of the Loftus Versfeld clash (7.05pm kick-off) despite last Sunday’s 63-15 thrashing at the hands of the Pumas.
Wessels was an outstanding junior loosehead prop in the Free State, and made the move to the Bulls straight after school with the hope of becoming a Springbok.
But Bulls boss Jake White felt that he had a better chance of playing Test rugby in the No 2 jersey, and while there have been some difficulties in his shift to the middle of the front row, the 21-year-old front-ranker is starting to feel much more comfortable in his new position.
“It’s a long process, and I think since the start of this year — if you look at it since last December, when I played in two URC games overseas — I wasn’t totally able to find my feet,” Wessels said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“But looking at the 15 to 20 minutes that I played in the last few URC games, and starting last weekend, I think my individual or set-piece play of a hooker is good. I have sorted out my throwing-in, and I feel my scrums are coming along.
“It was a long process and there were times when it was difficult, but I think I am now in a good place in terms of playing at hooker.
“The rest of the game actually stays the same … But in terms of the throwing-in and in the scrums, which are the primary roles of a hooker, I think I am doing well.
“It’s difficult if you make a lot of mistakes and your primary work isn’t going well, as a young player, something to learn is to still get involved in the game.
“But as the throw-ins get better, the better my rugby will become. You can’t let your whole game falter if you are battling with your throw-ins. Now that my throw-ins are better and I am getting more game-time, I would be able to get more involved in the games.”
Wessels understandably didn’t want to dwell too much on the defeat to the Pumas, but said that there was some introspection at Loftus this week.
The only way that the Bulls can prove they have dealt with that loss, though, is to produce a significant improvement against Province on Friday.
“I don’t think there is something big wrong. I think if we could’ve scored a maul try against the Lions, we could’ve won the game – and if we could’ve scored the maul try against the Stormers at the end,” Wessels said.
“Obviously losing by 40 points at the weekend is not good … It wasn’t a moment in which we lost the game, but a few sequences of moments where we lost the game that built up.
“I don’t think there is anything bad in the camp, or that it’s going terrible at the moment, or that there’s something wrong. You look at a lot of stuff when you’re losing, but I don’t think there’s something wrong.
“Individually as players and as a group at the Bulls, we need to come together and fix what’s wrong. I don’t think there’s a big thing that’s wrong, if you understand what I’m saying. I just think it’s individuals …
“They (WP) also have a strong set-piece. Their front row and line-outs are in place, and their mauls are also in place. So, if we prepare like we should, and focus on that and pitch up for the game, we can make it as tough for them as they could for us.”