As if the mood in the Blue Bulls camp was not buoyant enough after their impressive start to the Currie Cup in Bloemfontein, Jesse Kriel’s arrival at practice at Loftus Versfeld was like a breath of fresh air to the young squad.
Springbok centre Kriel has surprisingly not been taken over to Argentina by Rassie Erasmus and the 24-year-old will be eager to prove a point against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
It was no surprise to see assistant coach Gary Botha full of smiles as he considered the effect Kriel will have on the team and also how well his forward pack performed against the Cheetahs at the weekend.
“Having Jesse back is great, the guys will take a lot of energy from that. He jumped in and he clearly wants to play, that’s the sort of character we want at the Blue Bulls. He is someone the other players can look up to, and we have good structures in place. Continuity is key and that gives the players lots of motivation.
“We started off a bit rough up front against the Cheetahs, but it was a satisfactory performance. We hope our system allows the pack to become more consistent and we just want to stack good performance on good, build on that showing at the weekend and continue our growth up front,” Botha said.
While the Blue Bulls generally exerted their dominance in the scrums, the lineout were more of a tiff and the visitors were not helped by first-choice hooker Jaco Visagie pulling out with a knee injury after their last practice of the week.
“That sort of thing is disruptive for any team, but our system is not the issue. It was about timing and accuracy and that’s certainly something we’ll be spending more time and energy on. There’s nothing wrong with the throwing of Edgar Marutlulle and Jan-Henning Campher, it’s just about continuity.
They need to get into the swing because they have not played as much rugby this year as Jaco Visagie, it takes time to get going. But we got good reward from the ones we did nail. What happens in the first phases is becoming of massive importance in the Currie Cup because from that you can build pressure,” said Botha, who played hooker in 12 Tests for the Springboks.