Defence Nollis’ main concern
AS EXCITING as the try fest might be for those who have bothered to watc the first two rounds of this year’s Currie Cup, Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais, pictured, is concerned at how fickle his team’s defence is.
The Bulls have only played one match so far this season and it was a well-deserved, confidence boosting 51-45 win against Griquas in Kimberley two weeks ago where they scored seven tries and the hosts ran in five.
While impressed with his side’s ability to run at will ball in hand, Marais says there are still some fundamentals of the game that they will need to stick to if they are to go all the way in the competition.
“I love what I see and the fact that we are using ball in hand very well. But one must understand that the Currie Cup is most filled with youngsters who want to run at everything. There is nothing wrong with that but we still need to defend,” Marais said.
“This is something that we have spoken about and I’m a bit worried but our defence coach Pine Pienaar is addressing it.
“It is not that something is wrong with our defence but the guys just need to find a balance. There is no ways we can score seven tries and concede five, that is just unacceptable. We need to defend better and need to have the mindset to want to do so.”
And if the Bulls are truly serious about making the Currie Cup final and going one step better than they did last year by winning the competition for the first time since 2009, they will have to hold out the Golden Lions, Sharks and Western Province who they will play against in seven days starting from Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls have been hampered by a few injuries including that to attacking exponent and wing Duncan Matthews who is likely to miss all three matches against the Lions, Sharks and Western Province because of a hamstring injury but Marais is optimistic that his team can survive the onslaught that they will be facing with three of their most fiercest rivals in domestic rugby.
Marais also confirmed that they will be without Springboks Trevor Nyakane, Handre Pollard and soon to be capped Lizo Gqoboka as they will be part of the national team ahead of the Rugby Championship.
“Yes, we have been hit hard by injuries but it is no different to what has happened to us in the past. This gives us an opportunity to blood in some young players and get them ready for Super Rugby. It is important that we get guys to fill in the positions where we are lacking and to give the youngsters an opportunity to show what they can do at this level.
“The guys know what stands ahead of us and I want them to go out there and express themselves but we must do much better than we did against Griquas in making sure that we stop guys from scoring tries against us so easily,” Marais said.