Former Springbok prop Ollie le Roux believes Trevor Nyakane is the man to stop the Crusaders dominant scrum at Loftus on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
For the second successive week the Crusaders ran out comfortable victors over South African opposition. On both occasions it was their dominance up front that laid the platform for their victory.
Wyatt Crockett, packing down at loosehead, has received an equal share of praise and criticism for his performances. The legality of his technique has been called into question, most notably by former referee Jonathan Kaplan.
The fact remains – whether legal or not – the Crusaders scrum is a potent attacking weapon and one that the Vodacom Bulls will need to stop when the teams meet at Loftus this weekend.
Frans Ludeke's side started off the season in shaky fashion with losses to the Stormers and Hurricanes, but have recovered from their early struggles to reel off three consecutive wins.
Marcel van der Merwe was handed the No 3 jersey against the Force at the weekend, and performed admirably, but Le Roux believes it's Nyakane who's best suited to the challenge posed by Crockett and the Crusaders.
'Trevor must start for the Bulls this weekend. With the weight he's got, I think he'll be able to handle Crockett and sheer him off his hooker,' Le Roux told SARugbymag.co.za.
'Crockett is a taller guy, so when he scrums and gets to his natural height, it's always going to look like he's going up and in. When a guy is strong and he hurts you because he's got good technique, then we always want to say it's because it's illegal.
'Asking the referee to help you out is not going to cut it. Just sort your scrum out. Get the heaviest guys behind your tighthead, tell him to go low and hard and to keep his hips straight.'
Heading into the past weekend's matches, no team had beaten fewer defenders than the Crusaders, while the Bulls managed just one clean line-break against the Force, and were outscored by three tries to one.
Such numbers suggest Saturday's match will be decided by fine margins, making the scrum battle all the more pivotal.
'If the Bulls can find a way to negate the Crusaders scrum, then they'll have a good chance [of picking up the victory],' says Le Roux.
'The Crusaders are not playing good rugby at the moment, and there are still a lot of question marks about them, even after beating the Cheetahs, who are one of the weaker sides in the competition.
'The Bulls need to make sure they secure their own ball and don't give away cheap penalties. If they can do that, the Crusaders are there for the taking.'
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images