Blue Bulls seek new heights under Dewald
07 August 2012 | HEINZ SCHENK
JOHANNESBURG - His calm, authoritative and articulate demeanour perfectly complements a razor-sharp intellect, making it unsurprising that Blue Bulls mentor Pine Pienaar installed him as regular skipper for their Currie Cup campaign – starting at Loftus against Griquas on Friday night.
The 25-year-old out-of-favour Springbok is hardly a novice at captaincy having deputised at numerous junctures before.
“It’s a great honour,” he said yesterday. “I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to freely give my input as leader from the outset instead of a one-off basis.
“I’m always excited about the dynamics associated with the Currie Cup, where you have a group of senior men and younger upstarts who want to make an impact.”
Similarly to their Super Rugby campaign, there are a substantial contingent of new faces like Clayton Blommetjies, Ulrich Beyers and Cornell Hess, who’ll make their run-on debuts while Baby Bok star Jan Serfontein and Robbie Coetzee will also earn first caps should they appear from the bench.
Notably though, other members of the combination may still be young but already have Currie Cup campaigns under their belts, such as Francois Venter, Louis Fouche, Arno Botha and Jurgen Visser.
With Super Rugby coach Frans Ludeke asserting earlier in the year that a newish side doesn’t translate into a developmental paradigm, it’s with good reason that Potgieter is keen to follow that party line.
“When we got together at the beginning of the season, we decided that we still want to retain our focus on winning trophies. But you lend yourself to some ears and perhaps the guys first wanted to showcase their credentials before moving on to the loftier stuff,” he said.
“Perhaps it hindered us in the end, especially after we had such a good start and slipped up towards the end.
We’ve learnt from that and maybe won’t focus too much on change. In the end, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough so there are no excuses.
Any guy who plays isn’t here just to fill a place, there’s an expectation that you’ll move on to a higher level.”
Pienaar, who feels he has a much better feel for the tiller after a difficult first campaign in 2011, concurred that his squad has a good mix of players.
“I know my players a lot better now after coaching against them previously at Free State. Our blend makes me very excited,” he said.
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