PRETORIA – Bulls lock Jason Jenkins is having the biggest week in his fledgling rugby career and he believes it will get better if his team beats the Stormers in the north/south derby at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
With Springbok lock Lood de Jager ruled out because of injury, Jenkins is the man tasked with running the Bulls lineout and doing the grunt of the work against the Stormers.
De Jager’s injury comes two weeks after the men in blue lost another lock in RG Snyman, leaving their second row rather thin on experience.
The 22-year-old Jenkins will carry on his broad but young shoulders the burden of making calls in one of the Bulls most crucial areas of the game, the lineouts, which the home side will want to use as a springboard to turning around their run of bad luck that has seen them lose four in a row.
But Jenkins will revel in the spotlight of leading the Bulls charge especially upfront and this on the back of his invitation to the Springboks alignment and assessment camp to be held in Vanderbijlpark next week.
“It’s obviously a big loss for us losing those two, they’re both quality players and they've both had a great season, But I don’t mind taking on the challenge. I think we have the guys to do the job, so we aren’t going to stand back,” he said.
Jenkins has no illusions of how difficult a task it will be facing a Stormers pack that have held their own against competent forwards in the Blues and Queensland Reds squads.
The fact that the Capetonians will rely on their forwards to get them dominance will further intensify proceedings with the Bulls also looking to gain set-piece dominance before unleashing their destructive backs.
“We know they have a strong pack and a very strong scrum with Wilco (Louw) and Kitsie (Steven Kitshoff) and so on. We have also watched some of their games and we know the pack is what they rely on. We know it will be a big challenge up front as always but that is what you expect from a north-south derby,” Jenkins said.
But the biggest challenge for the Bulls as an outfit won’t be the magnitude of the occasion or playing at home but rather fighting off the demons of self-doubt after their plan has been deemed redundant on the wake of the consecutive losses in the past month.
And it is those seeds of doubt that Jenkins doesn’t want his teammates to allow to flourish as he believes that the systems in place are working. It's just unfortunate the results are not complimenting their efforts.
“The big challenge for us is not to doubt our systems. It has been shown already that what we are doing is much better - we beat the Hurricanes.
Hopefully over the next few weeks we can get the results,” added Jenkins. “We know we need to stick to the process, we know what we want to achieve.”