Nizaam Carr aims to run dream line for Bulls against Benetton

‘We don’t want to play to not lose,’ said Bulls loose forward Nizaam Carr about Saturday’s URC quarter-final against Benetton. Photo: BackpagePix

‘We don’t want to play to not lose,’ said Bulls loose forward Nizaam Carr about Saturday’s URC quarter-final against Benetton. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 5, 2024


On November 22, 2014, Nizaam Carr announced himself in Test rugby – and it was the grandest of entrances.

Having replaced Marcell Coetzee at openside flank in the second half against Italy at the Stadio Euganeo in Padova, the then-23-year-old Carr produced a trademark silky touch in his very first contribution, as he ran a perfect line following a Willie le Roux break to set up Cobus Reinach’s try.

Carr left none other than Italian icon Sergio Parisse on the floor in what was arguably his most memorable moment in his five-Test career.

While he is not ruling out doing a ‘Deon Fourie’ and playing Test rugby again, Carr – now 33 – hopes to make another major impact against an Italian team when the Bulls face Benetton in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship quarter-final at Loftus Versfeld (3.30pm kick-off).

“I really hope so! I really hope that that is going to be my first touch again against the Italian boys at Loftus,” the former Stormers stalwart said yesterday about his first touch in Test rugby.

“That is the ideal picture for me. It is always what I visualise, and in fact, I like to dream those types of stuff, and I wake up and think that didn’t happen now! But I really hope that will be the case for me this weekend.”

But Carr knows that enjoying such space won’t come easy against a competitive Benetton outfit that scored five tries in a 56-35 defeat at Loftus just a few weeks ago.

The men from Treviso were 31-7 down at one stage, but kept going right until the end – and it is something the Bulls want to prevent from happening again this weekend.

“That is also coming from the mindset in their national team. Even when they are under pressure – and I’ve spoken to a lot of guys that I played with in England – they just never die. They have a never-say-die attitude,” Carr said.

“They are going to keep coming, no matter what the scoreboard says. We were leading by far, and they still managed to score tries. If we become complacent, things can go the other way.

“They’ve been doing well – maybe not consistently getting those wins, but they are definitely a side that have improved a lot, in terms of Italy rugby.

“They are a side that you have to respect. You have to pitch up otherwise it’s going to be a really long day, if you don’t cover all your bases.

— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) June 4, 2024

“A lot of people – even some of my family – are saying, ‘Ag, Benetton aren’t something to worry about’, but that’s not the case in the way we’re training, in our preparation.

“It’s a massive game for us, knockout rugby, so we are really looking forward to a very tough, physical challenge.”

The Bulls have scored the most tries (85) and points (639), and produced some sparkling attacks this season.

Many teams tend to go into their shells when the play-offs come around, though, and finding that balance will be the key for Jake White’s team on Saturday.

“As I said to the other boys, any opportunity we get where it’s maybe kickable, we need to take the points,” Carr said.

“Jake mentioned to us that it’s knockout rugby, and any 22m entry, it’s very important to take the points. But if the leaders and captain feel that the opportunity is there, and (Benetton) are under the pump, we can maybe go for a maul option, which we pride ourselves on.

“We don’t want to play to not lose ... We want to play to win – that is the mindset we have.”

“We also want to go out there and express ourselves. What has been working for us during training is absorbing a lot of pressure, and as soon as we got turnovers, we’ve got really good personnel to spread the ball out wide, where the interplay is really good.

“So, for us, it’s the physical dominance and winning the gain-line – that’s probably going to be the whole game and how tough it’s going to be.

“If we don’t do that, they are going to get front-foot ball, which is going to make it difficult for your defence to fold a lot quicker.

“But if there’s real aggression and toughness at the breakdown, that will slow them down. Benetton thrive off loose play and the loose balls, and if we can match that, it will be a really good day for us.”