Jacques du Plessis has urged the Vodacom Bulls to strike an important psychological blow to their rivals when they face DHL Western Province in a Currie Cup clash in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Vodacom Bulls travel to Cape Town this weekend for the first of two north-south derbies.
The second will take place in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-finals, when the DHL Stormers host the Vodacom Bulls on 6 May.
Speaking ahead of the Currie Cup match on Thursday, experienced lock Du Plessis says Saturday’s match is a good opportunity for the Vodacom Bulls to gain a psychological advantage before they return to Cape Town for the Vodacom URC quarter-finals.
“The Stormers and Western Province are both very good sides. Their players play with a lot of confidence. So a north-south derby is always massive,” said Du Plessis. “There are always bragging rights. We are very much looking forward to meeting them again. We haven’t ever beaten them in the URC, so we really want to change that.
“We want to do well this weekend. It’s very important for us to play well before the quarter-finals.”
The Vodacom Bulls go into Saturday’s north-south derby having turned their form around by winning three successive games in the Currie Cup, beating Griquas, and the Sharks and Lions.
“It was a very tough time, but it happens in sport. You can’t always be on top,” said Du Plessis. “Sometimes, you have to lose to learn more about your mistakes and the game. That’s what we did. We spoke about what went wrong.
“Some of those losses we could have won, but the ball just didn’t bounce our way. We stuck to our guns, knowing what we can do, trained hard. We are just happy with where we are.”
The Vodacom Bulls appear to have rediscovered their forward dominace, with their pack back to making relentless carries and giving their dangerous backs good momentum to play with.
“I think with rugby, 80 years ago it was the same and 80 years later it will still be the same. The forward pack has to dominate,” said Du Plessis. “You have to give your backs good ball. With the talented backs that we have, they make it easy for us, if we can give them that clean ball.”
Since joining the Vodacom Bulls from Montpellier in 2021, Du Plessis has endured a difficult run with long-term injuries, but has recently appeared to be getting to his best as the team’s enforcer in the Currie Cup.
“I had a meeting with the coaches. I didn’t arrive like I wanted to,” the 29-year-old explained. “I had injuries, but they knew that. I told them when I arrived that I had a few bad niggles. It didn’t start off well, not the way I wanted it to, it has been frustrating and difficult times.
“But I am past it now. I am feeling great. I just want to be involved, it doesn’t matter where I can help. I have played seven or eight games in a row now, I can’t remember when I last did that, especially most of them 80 minutes. I am still not close to where I want to be, but I am thankful that I can play 80 minutes again.”