Time for Bulls to front up

Winger Matthews a fine ex­am­ple of never giv­ing up men­tal bat­tle

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOBENI

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, pic­tured.

Matthews, who only made his Su­per Rugby de­but for the Bulls this sea­son, is not afraid of the stature that comes with a Storm­ers team that have al­ready booked their place in the Su­per Rugby play-offs af­ter a dis­mal sea­son by the three­time Su­per Rugby cham­pi­ons.

The most im­por­tant thing for Matthews 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 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.

The Bulls can take much from how Matthews has been able to over­come some po­ten­tially ca­reer-end­ing in­juries ahead of their clash on Satur­day against the Storm­ers.

But it is their be­lief in them­selves that will be crit­i­cal for 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, it doesn’t mat­ter how big or tall you are,” said Matthews.

It was against the Hurricanes, for whom Savea plays, that Matthews an­nounced him­self in Su­per Rugby with a try on de­but. And it will be the same mind­set that got him through the three years of in­juries that Matthews wants his team­mates to adopt against a star-stud­ded Storm­ers side this week­end.

Matthews’ pos­i­tive at­ti­tude needs to per­me­ate the Bulls if they are to re­cover from their shock loss against the Kings and their in­dif­fer­ent sea­son.

Matthews’ rise to promi­nence at Lof­tus has come due to the in­juries to Jamba Ulengo and Travis Is­maiel, and, like him, the Bulls will have to make the best out of a bad sit­u­a­tion to record an un­likely vic­tory against the Storm­ers.

“In­juries have been the low­est point of my ca­reer,” said the winger.

“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.

“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 out­come 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,” said Matthews.

Hope­fully the Bulls will get bet­ter if they have the same be­lief and, as Matthews has done, not look back on what might have been.

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