PRETORIA - As good as the Stormers have been this year it will be important for the Bulls to focus on the road that lies ahead and not look back, according to wing Duncan Matthews.
Matthews, who only made his Super Rugby debut this season, is not afraid of the stature that comes on Saturday with a Stormers team that have already booked their place in the Super Rugby play-offs after a dismal season by the three time Super Rugby champions.
The most important thing for Matthews' injury interrupted career, is that the Bulls pick themselves up from the floor of mediocrity and finally showcase the talent and ability that comes with the names of fullback Warrick Gelant, Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel to mention a few.
“I’m not too worried about the Stormers at the moment, I feel like me and Warrick and a few of the other guys in the team we have to find each other better and it will come off. I’m not too worried about the Stormers, I know what we have in our backline and if we stick to what we can do and do what we can do the result will speak for itself,” Matthews said.
However the Bulls can take out much from how Matthews have been able to overcome some career ending injuries ahead of their derby against the Stormers but it is their belief in themselves that will be critical in them being able to get over the line when it matters the most.
“When I came to the Bulls I was skinnier than what I am now and I worked on that tried to get physical attributes to play rugby. I might not have the height but can I stand my ground to defend against a guy like Julian Savea, if you stand your ground doesn’t matter how big or tall you are,” said Matthews.
It was against the Hurricanes, for which Savea plays, that Matthews announced his introduction into Super Rugby with a try on debut and it will be the same mentality that got him through the three years of injuries that Matthews wants his teammates to adopt against a star-studded Stormers side.
Matthews’ positive attitude needs to permeate to the rest of the Bulls team if they are to recover from their shock loss against the Kings and their indifferent season while the ability to return to their best cannot be based on one season but must be on the back of the setbacks they have suffered since their last Super Rugby triumph in 2010.
While Matthews rise to prominence at Loftus has come due to the injuries to Jamba Ulengo and Travis Ismaiel, it has been in making the best out of a bad situation that the Bulls will need to apply in recording an unlikely victory against the Stormers.
“Injuries have been the lowest point of my career. I always tell my close friends that the worst part is lying in bed and knowing that you are better than the guys out there," he said.
"So for me getting over that mental barrier was the most important thing but I agreed that I must take year off rugby and when I came back the guys at Loftus still believed in me after my operations and this has been the results of that.
"If you come back from injury with the confidence needed to play at the highest level then I still believe I can be better than I am at the moment. It’s just a matter of getting the fitness as well. I’ve had a few games now to gain momentum and I know I can be better if I can get fitter."
Hopefully the Bulls will get better if they have the same belief and not look back on what might have been as Matthews has done.