PRETORIA - The Bulls will be looking to stem the tide of their four match losing streak and seeking redemption from their disastrous tour Down Under when they face the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld, so says hard man Tim Agaba.
Agaba, who made his starting Super Rugby debut for the Bulls in last weekend’s loss against the Crusaders, will be playing in his first north south derby but says his focus is purely on his contribution in ensuring the Bulls break their four match losing run and fix the errors that have dogged their game in recent weeks.
“It doesn’t get bigger than this. It is the big South African derby here at Loftus and a nice one to be part of for me and I’m looking forward to it,” said Agaba. “What is important to us is that we don’t go to sleep, we can’t rest on our laurels and we don’t focus on our losses. We got to fix what we can and take it into this game. It is a big one for us.”
The enormity of Saturday’s occasion goes beyond the history behind this derby and the Bulls will look to rectify their defensive frailties, especially the ones that saw them hand over dominance in the games against the Reds and Chiefs.
At the same time, the Bulls' inability to replicate their second half performances with the same intent on attack and defence as in the first half also came back to haunt them against the Crusaders, including their confusion when it comes to stopping the rolling maul.
As confrontational as Agaba is on the field of play, the Mthatha-born number eight fronts up to the aspects of the game that have let his team down up to now and says they have no choice but to eradicate them by the weekend.
“It reciprocates what happened in the Chiefs’ game. I felt in the first half we didn’t do too badly and in the second half we went to sleep. The Crusaders kept the game up top there and we didn’t play with them,” Agaba added.
"There are certain areas we need to improve on big time. And there are certain areas if we don’t improve on throughout this tournament that are going to cost us big time. We will look at ourselves closely this week and rectify the wrongs of the tour."
A Springbok Sevens star who has played played a pivotal role in the successes of the national team in achieving a bronze medal at the Rio Olympic Games and winning the World Series last season, Agaba is relishing the personal contest he will have against Springboks and Stormers loose forwards Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi on Saturday.
While Agaba constantly wears a smile on his face and is one of the most humble players around, it is the competitive nature in him that will see him look to outplay the likes of Kolisi and Carr and also get himself into the reckoning for higher honours in the 15-men game.
“That’s the reason why I’m playing Super Rugby in the first place so I can play against the best in the world to see exactly where I am and where I fit in. Guys like Nizaam (Carr) and Siya (Kolisi) are fantastic players and I have a lot of respect for them but we are all rugby players and hopefully we can get on top of them this weekend,” Agaba said.
And it is Agaba’s ambition to become a 15-men Springbok and help elevate the Bulls to Super Rugby success that has seen him make the decision to withdraw from the Blitzbokke’s gold medal defence at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“I’m not so sure about the Commonwealth Games right now. I’m focusing on Super Rugby and what the Bulls need to do to be successful. I’m looking at playing Sevens again but not so sure when,” said Agaba.