Bulls scrum has to front up or sink
The Blue Bulls scrum bore the brunt of Western Province’s explosive first half at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and it needs some fast fixing.
Their versatile Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane is all too aware of this‚ especially with the Bulls conceding two tries from the set-play during Saturday’s 34-7 drubbing at the hands of Western Province.
Nyakane said they had plenty to work on and their set-piece was one of the facets that needed rapid improvement.
Despite the wet conditions‚ Wilco Louw washed the Bulls scrum away in a similar manner to the way the storm in Pretoria did to proceedings on Saturday afternoon.
Louw and the rest of Province’s bristling pack will be lying in wait for the Blue Bulls in Saturday’s second Currie Cup semifinal.
“If you’re a player‚ you know exactly what happened, and there are a lot of things we need to fix on the training field before we can even think of going to Cape Town and doing something‚” Nyakane said.
“There are a lot of things we need to work on.
“It gets you angry as a tighthead when things happened as they did on Saturday because that’s something you’re supposed to be good at and put bread on the table as a prop.
“If you don’t take it personally‚ then you shouldn’t be there.
“It’s a hard one for us to swallow but fortunately for us‚ it’s back to square one.
“It’s a semifinal we’re going to play and anything can happen.”
Nyakane said the team was not switched on mentally – that is also an area they need to get right in the playoff game.
There is also the significant matter of finding parity at least against a Province side that adapted better than the Bulls to the lake that was Loftus.
Western Province played in similar conditions earlier in the season against the Free State Cheetahs and won that game comfortably.
“If you want to go to Cape Town and win‚ your set-piece has to be your strong point.
“If you’re not going to dominate the set-piece‚ you’re going to be in trouble.
“We’re going to have to go to Cape Town and sort the setpiece out one way or another.
“We’re going to have to find a way to neutralise them so that we can put our backs in play‚” Nyakane said.
“We didn’t pitch and that was a mindset. We need to be ready to rectify the errors.
“We’ve been scrumming well the whole season, but I feel that mentally we weren’t there, and when you’re playing against a champion team like Western Province and you don’t pitch‚ that’s the result you’re going to get.”
Nyakane’s fitness issues have been under the spotlight this season as an assortment of injuries have prevented him from having a sustained run.
That has allowed the likes of Frans Malherbe‚ Louw and Coenie Oosthuizen to establish a pecking order while he convalesced.
Nyakane said he needed to focus on putting in shifts with the Bulls before worrying about matters of national importance.
“I don’t feel I’m under pressure to prove myself to perform because at the end of the day‚ I’m trying to do well for the Bulls – if the Bulls do well‚ it’s easier for the coach to spot you.
“However‚ if you try to impress a coach‚ you’re going to end up isolating yourself and doing the opposite to what the team wants‚” Nyakane said
“It’s important to impress, but it’s better for me to impress within the structures and do what the Bulls want at this point in time, so when the coach sees me performing‚ he can pick me.
“Yes, there are good guys coming back, but it’s important for me to tick the boxes here at the Bulls, because if you don’t perform here‚ there’s no reason for a call-up.”