No middle road for Viljoen
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.”