‘WP man’ Johan Grobbelaar aims to get physical for Bulls against Griquas
CAPE TOWN - The Bulls lost two line-outs in their own 22 against the Sharks, one of which led to the match-winning try by Yaw Penxe.
But that doesn’t mean they have to suddenly change their calls in the set-piece for the rest of the Currie Cup. That was the view of first-choice No 2 Johan Grobbelaar ahead of Saturday’s clash against Griquas in Kimberley (4.30pm kick-off).
Grobbelaar, who turns 23 on December 30, was replaced by a slightly younger but more inexperienced hooker in Schalk Erasmus for the last 10 minutes at Kings Park, and the former Affies schoolboy felt the nerves as two throw-ins were claimed by the Sharks.
The second one ended with Curwin Bosch’s cross-kick for Penxe to dive over for a 32-29 victory.
Grobbelaar, though, doesn’t feel their entire line-out system needs to be reinvented. “It’s small things – it was no one’s fault. Bad timing and things like that. But our line-outs are still good: we mustn’t just look at those balls that we lost. I think we are still on top of the list for line-outs (won), so no, we are not concerned about that,” he said.
He is right on that front. The Bulls had the best line-out in Super Rugby Unlocked with a 93.9% success rate, and have continued in a similar vein in the Currie Cup, although there aren’t official statistics available.
Grobbelaar’s throwing accuracy has been consistent, and he reminds one of former Springbok captain John Smit in that regard. And while Smit went from Pretoria Boys’ High to carve out a career at the Sharks, Grobbelaar arrived in the capital city from Paarl Gym and Western Province in 2016.
“Ja, it is a rather strange path that I chose. I never thought that I would end up here – I was a big WP man. I sat every weekend at Newlands and supported WP,” he admits.
“But after I finished school, I got good opportunities here and I decided to make the switch. I never thought I would last so long here in Gauteng! But I adapted well, got to know people and came through the system, so I am very happy here.”
Coming off the Sharks defeat, the Bulls need to make sure they beat Griquas on Saturday to all but secure a home semi-final, and the log-leaders won’t have captain Vermeulen, who is on a break at home in the Cape.
“There’s no doubt that Duane has a big influence, and he is not here this week. But there are still other leaders, like Arno Botha, Morné (Steyn) and them who can still take over,” Grobbelaar said.
“Griquas are always a tough side. Last year they beat us at Loftus, and at the beginning of this season, we had a tough game against them. Now we are travelling to Kimberley, but we are going to definitely make it a physical battle, like always – dominate the contact, dominate the scrums, and win the line-outs.”