Vodacom Bulls assistant coach Chris Rossouw says Handré Pollard and Duane Vermeulen will drive the team against the Stormers at Loftus. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Rossouw, who played for the Stormers from 2001-2005, will focus on the Bulls’ attack and backline this season, and expects another big north-south derby on Saturday.
‘Everyone will want the teams to showcase the stuff they worked on during the off-season and to be at their clinical best,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za. ‘But Saturday is the first hit-out, so there will be a couple of nerves and more pressure than usual. This game will be about calming those nerves and setting the tone in preparation for a long season ahead.’
Rossouw believes the Bok duels will have a big part to play in determining the outcome of the match.
‘We have to remember it’s Springbok against Springbok and the guys all want to prove a point. We want to focus on a 15-man game, but in any game situation, a team has to rely on certain individual connectors. It’s difficult to single players out, but I feel [No 8] Duane Vermeulen and [flyhalf] Handré Pollard will be instrumental for us. They are the drivers of this team.
‘The Stormers have a talented squad,’ Rossouw added. ‘Guys like Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds and Damian Willemse can carve any defence open in a split second. Forwards Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siya Kolisi and Steven Kitshoff have the ability to batter opponents into the ground. Those are the players we need to look out for and whose impact must be kept to a minimum.’
The 42-year-old, who previously coached at Maties, the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport and Western Province U21, says he is not implementing radical change to the Bulls’ attacking style.
‘There was already a positive change in the way the Bulls attacked after John Mitchell took over. He did an excellent job with the guys in the few months he was here. For me now, it’s about latching on to that momentum and just fine-tuning a few things, like trying to make sure that we are more accurate and effective with our running lines to open up space.’
Rossouw was coy when asked who initiated his move to the Bulls.
‘I don’t really know how it came about, you should ask the Bulls that. I guess they feel I can add value to this team. I was approached last year and after a couple of discussions, they offered me the job. I took time to think about it and towards the end of the year I accepted.’
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