PRETORIA - Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka knows all about the hardships, troughs, self-doubt and pressure.

Coming from the bustling town of Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape, Gqoboka only got introduced to rugby after his matric year while studying in Durban.

Gqoboka started at the bottom playing club rugby, before testing out his rugby talent back in the Eastern Cape with the Southern Kings.

At the peak of the Kings financial woes and having not received a salary for months, Gqoboka made the tough decision to leave the comforts of his home province to take up a once-in-a-lifetime offer from the Bulls.

After all the hardship that Gqoboka had endured in his short career, the loosehead prop finally got the break he was looking for by playing for the Bulls, and that opened up even more opportunities as he represented the SA A side last year and travelled with the Springboks on their end-of-year tour.

It is with the same positive outlook that Gqoboka views the hardships that his beloved Bulls are going through in Super Rugby at the moment, and believes that the pressure that has come with them losing four out of their five games will help grow the team and players.

Gqoboka revealed on Wednesday that despite the calamity building at the Bulls, the team remains positive and the players are using the pressure to their advantage as they seek the one win that will turn their season around.

“Yes, definitely, it is good pressure,” said Gqoboka, pictured.

"This is the kind of pressure that makes you grow as a person and as a player. Being at the Bulls, you know that the union have won this competition a few times and that brings pressure but it is something that I believe will help us grow as people and as players.

"We’ve done well in terms of staying positive and working hard with that pressure."

While the results and, to some extent, their performances might suggest a team that is in disarray, Gqoboka believes that they are making progress and should be an even better outfit when they play against the Sunwolves on Saturday.

“We’ve worked hard in the pre-season, there is no doubt we are fit," he said.

"It just comes down to execution of the plan. We’ve seen big progress from our first game in terms of our set-piece, defence and glimpses of what we can do on attack. There’s been progress, even though we haven’t gotten the results that we wanted but we are growing, there is progress.”

The Bulls problems seem to be mounting by the week, though, and if it is not an ailing scrum, then they are being out-muscled at the breakdown and their defence is being breached with ease.

Gqoboka is confident that what has gone wrong for the Bulls is now a thing of the past, and they will be working hard to focus on the pockets of excellence that they showed for the better part of their defeat against the Chiefs last weekend in Hamilton.

“I think there’s been big improvements since the Stormers and we’ve been winning penalties. There is progress in that area as well and in the set-pieces, which are going well at the moment," Gqoboka said.

"We played against teams (last two games against the Blues and Chiefs) that keep the ball in hand and apply pressure through keeping possession.

"We’ve been working hard in the week to apply pressure and try to keep the ball for longer. We create good opportunities but it is a matter of converting them into points.”

The Bulls will be facing a familiar opponent in the Sunwolves, after playing against them three weeks ago at Loftus, and as much as the Bulls were able to win, Gqoboka is wary of the danger they pose, especially after their encouraging performance against the Stormers in Singapore.

Pretoria News