Griquas 'confident' of testing Bulls
CAPE TOWN – Despite the fact that Griquas beat the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last year, coach Scott Mathie still believes it will be “David versus Goliath” in the Super Rugby Unlocked clash on Saturday.
The men from Kimberley knocked over the Bulls 37-15 in Pretoria on August 3 last year, but Mathie was quick to point out that it was a very different home team compared to the one that will run out at Loftus on Saturday (7pm kick-off).
Not only will they have a new coach in Jake White, but also a whole host of Springbok signings, including Duane Vermeulen and Gio Aplon, who will lead the charge this weekend.
Asked if Griquas could topple the ‘Springbok Bulls’, Mathie told Independent Media yesterday: “Ah man! We will find out on Saturday - that’s the best thing I can say before the game. They are obviously an elite, star-studded team. If you just look at the wage comparison of what we can spend and what they can spend It’s giants versus It’s David versus Goliath on the weekend.
“But we go there confidently. We had a good win there last year, albeit against a team with no Springboks in it, which is a big difference. But we’ve been up there and performed well before, and are confident in our squad. This Griquas team is wired to compete: that’s what we’re about. It’s just great to pit your team against the best.”
The coach added that the two recent warm-up matches against the Cheetahs were Griquas’ first matches in nearly 14 months, due to Covid-19.
Their last competitive game was the 2019 Currie Cup semi-final clash against the Lions on August 31 - their first play-off appearance in 21 years, where they lost 34-19 at Ellis Park.
He saw significant improvement from the first Cheetahs pre-season encounter, which Griquas lost 40-7, to last week’s 31-21 defeat. But he knows that the Bulls’ powerful pack of forwards will provide the main test on Saturday.
“It’s always up front. Set-piece-wise, that is where the big unions have the strength, especially with the Springboks in the scrums and mauls. That’s the biggest threat, and the Bulls obviously have a very good kicking game and will use that to their advantage,” Mathie said.
“They have both right and left-foot kickers with incredible experience. Those are areas we will need to really combat.”
Griquas do boast an ace goal-kicker themselves in the shape of captain and flyhalf George Whitehead, who could be involved in a shoot-out with veteran Bulls No 10 Morné Steyn.
The Northern Cape outfit also have recruited wisely in the off-season, and have a number of experienced provincial campaigners such as Anthony Volmink, Berton Klaasen, Ashlon Davids, John-Roy Jenkinson and Mox Mxoli.
It is also a challenge for the 37-year-old former scrum-half – who played for the Sharks, Bulls and EP locally, as well as Leeds and Sale in England – to face a former Bok coach in White.
“It’s fantastic, and always something that you want, to pit yourself against the best. For me, everything is about continuously growing, learning and improving."