No mid­dle road for Viljoen

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

IT’S no won­der Storm­ers out­side cen­tre EW Viljoen wants their match against the Bulls at Lof­tus on Satur­day to go down the same way their Su­per Rugby sea­son-opener did.

In the Storm­ers’ first game of the sea­son against their old foes, Rob­bie Fleck’s men were out­stand­ing in their 37-24 vic­tory, and if they had to be unhappy about some­thing, it would be the fact that they didn’t grab a bonus-point try.

In that en­counter, the Storm­ers pro­duced a com­plete per­for­mance. The New­lands faith­ful were treated to their beloved Storm­ers mas­ter­ing the Bulls at the break­downs, dom­i­nat­ing the col­li­sions and putting an at­tack­ing spec­ta­cle. It was a per­for­mance that painted a per­fect pic­ture of what coach Fleck wanted his team to achieve.

Viljoen made his Su­per Rugby de­but at New­lands that night, and the rookie cen­tre was a stand­out. His strong pass­ing game, his vi­sion and his skill set, proved a per­fect fit in an on-fire Storm­ers back­line.

His sea­son since then, has been just as su­perb, with his only ‘quiet’ out­ings com­ing dur­ing the Storm­ers’ hor­ror tour to New Zealand and per­haps against the Sharks and the Lions.

And now, un­der­stand­ably, Viljoen wants to close the chap­ter on his de­but sea­son in the same way he opened it – with a com­plete per­for­mance.

“It’s quite weird be­cause my first game was against the Bulls and now the last pool­stage game is also against the Bulls. It’s quite nice to start your Su­per Rugby sea­son that way. And to end it in that way will also be good,” the 22-yearold said.

The for­mer Ju­nior Spring­bok, who fea­tured at the World Rugby Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onship for then-coach Dawie Theron’s team, has started in all but one game for the Storm­ers this sea­son, and he is set on im­prov­ing his game to tighten his grip on the firstchoice No 13 spot.

“I’m very lucky and very hum­bled to have been in­jury free and I def­i­nitely want to be first choice, that’s some­thing I’m work­ing to­wards – to stay first choice,” Viljoen said.

“There’s al­ways stuff in my game I can work on, I don’t be­lieve it’s ever 10 out of 10 or 100 per­cent for any player. There’s al­ways things you can work on, and I’m work­ing on a lot of things to be the best I can be for the team.”

The Storm­ers mid­fielder was also look­ing for­ward to the pos­si­bil­ity of go­ing up against Spring­boks cen­tres Jan Ser­fontein and Jesse Kriel when they travel to Pre­to­ria.

“It’s some­thing I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for­ward to, but I’ll ap­proach this game the same way I’ve ap­proached all the oth­ers in the com­pe­ti­tion. I’m def­i­nitely look­ing for­ward to play­ing against Jesse and Jan if they do play, I’ve got a lot of re­spect for them. They’re some of the best cen­tres in the world.”

It would be fair to as­sume that the Bulls wouldn’t mind clos­ing the chap­ter on what has been a dis­mal sea­son for them, but Viljoen wasn’t ex­pect­ing any­thing less than a “tough bat­tle” in the clas­si­cal North v South derby.

“It is a South African derby and play­ing against them is al­ways tough. When they play well as a team they can beat any team they want to. And that’s some­thing we’re look­ing for­ward to, it’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be a tough bat­tle.”

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