Vodacom Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl isn’t focusing solely on his battle with Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies in Pretoria this weekend.
The Bulls’ clash with the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday could pit the two Springbok scrumhalves against each other, with Van Zyl and Jantjies both set to retain their places in their respective starting lineups.
Van Zyl – together with Bulls teammate Embrose Papier – was providing backup to Faf de Klerk in 2018 and looked to claim a spot in the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup squad.
However, after the duo’s loss of confidence and form in 2019 Jantjies and Cobus Reinach – who was then in top form for the Northampton Saints – pipped them to a place in the squad which travelled to Japan and lifted the Webb Ellis Cup.
Speaking ahead of the Bulls’ match against the Stormers, Van Zyl told the media that he isn’t reading to much into the battle with his opposite number and is instead looking inward.
‘Obviously, you want to test yourself against the best in South Africa,’ Van Zyl said. ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited for the challenge but in the end, it’s all about what’s going to help our team win. That’s our main focus.
‘Naturally, there will be smaller battles within a game and we’ll see how things pan out.’
Following two shaky performances in their opening win against Griquas and loss to the Cheetahs, the Bulls kickstarted their season as they outplayed the Sharks in Pretoria for a bonus-point victory.
Van Zyl said that while that win has given the team plenty of much-needed confidence, they are expecting a very different challenge against a Springbok-laden Stormers pack.
‘We need to keep working hard. This week is a different challenge against a Stormers combination with a different set of players and skill sets. We’ll definitely have to keep being at our best.
‘The win couldn’t have come at a better time for us. We were a little bit stop-start in the first two matches. The important thing is to build on this position, otherwise it won’t help much.
‘It were small things that we needed to change, to be more clinical at crucial stages. Our decision-making was better and we identified space effectively. The key to last weekend’s success was the right decisions at the right time. That will need to continue.’
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