PRETORIA – ‘Rugby is still the same. If the forwards dominate then you are in with a good chance.’
Take that as the gospel coming from one of the hardest forwards to have played the domestic game and who has also coached some of the most feared men in the game.
Bulls forwards coach Pote Human is a firm believer that everything begins and ends with the forwards and that is why they wilted against the Stormers at the weekend. They will have to be strong again in that department if they are to topple the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday.
Human admitted the Bulls were suffocated upfront by the Stormers in their 29-17 loss at Newlands. They did not have answers to the hosts’ assault on their scrums and in the driving maul against them, especially in the opening exchanges.
At the same time, though, Human commended how his men stayed in the fight and never succumbed. He believes the lessons learnt will be valuable against the Sharks.
“It was very disappointing. I really believe we didn’t play as well as we can. They came hard, give them credit, they really did their homework and they smashed us up front. They said they were coming for us in the scrums and they did it and they had that 20metre maul which is unacceptable for the Bulls.”
“We have to learn from that and rectify it and be better this weekend,” Human said.
And he is expecting more of the same fiery charge by the Sharks as the men from Durban seek to exact revenge after being embarrassed 40-10 by the Bulls in Durban recently.
“They will come for us because of what happened last time in Durban. We expect a huge challenge upfront from them,” said Human. “We saw on Saturday that they have a great team, pack of forwards and they are really playing good rugby at the moment.”
Even though battered, bruised and a little bit broken, more their egos than their bodies, Human believes they possess one of the most formidable packs in the competition and with the rich vein of form of their frontrow of Lizo Gqoboka, hooker Adriaan Strauss and tighthead prop Trevor Nyakane along with locks Lood de Jager and RG Snyman.
Nyakane missed the Stormers clash due to a neck injury but has been given the green light to train with the team this week and should start to strengthen the Bulls scrum against the Sharks.
“I believe so, I really believe so (that we have a strong pack). I think we showed it on tour, in the first 60 minutes against the Chiefs we were in it and the game against the Crusaders we were in it the whole time. I believe there are a few guys who can play for the Springboks at this stage.”
“I really think the locks (Lood de Jager and RG Snyman) have put up their hands and our props, Lizo (Gqoboka) and Trevor (Nyakane), can dominate if they put their minds to it.”
But in order for the Bulls pack to be effective and domineering as they have been in patches this year, they will need to be consistent. And only then can they take the team to greater heights and at least make the play-offs.
Consistency is the only thing lacking in their game as has been proven by their recent two losses after they had put together a string of three victories after the tour.
“If you want to win in this competition, every game is like a final. So you must be consistent. If you don’t pitch for one day and are 10 percent off then you won’t make it.”
Human admits there is pressure to start winning again, especially at home, and they will need to do so in the three matches before the June international break if they are to be relevant at the business end of the competition.
“There is certainly pressure on us at Loftus because we want to make our supporters happy and fill the stadium again. John (Mitchell) is doing a fantastic job in keeping the players calm and following the process.”
“If everyone does their job then we will grow. But that said, the Sharks are playing good rugby. We are in for a very tough game,” said Human.