De­fence Nol­lis’ main con­cern

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

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.

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