Lock Salmaan Moerat has cautioned the Blue Bulls to expect a very different Western Province team to that which were mauled 39-6 in a Super Rugby Unlocked clash at Loftus a month ago.
Ahead of the clash between the two old rivals in a Currie Cup opener at Newlands on Saturday, Moerat has admitted that the Capetonians are still hurting from that hiding in Pretoria.
For the 116kg lock, who stands two metres tall, it was especially worrying how Jake White’s Bulls bossed them physically in the contact areas.
“It was really tough accepting a loss like that, but I remember after the game how excited we were to meet them again within just four weeks of that game in Cape Town,” said Moerat.
The 22-year-old tight forward, who appears to be on the national radar after featuring in the Green v Gold match back in October, said the start of the season wasn’t ideal, but felt they had started building decent momentum and after an enforced bye, they were keen to make it count.
“These derbies are always special, especially at Newlands, despite the fact that there will be no fans allowed. There are certainly a few things that we want to rectify come this weekend.
“It’s an exciting prospect and we are looking forward to it. You don’t always get the opportunity to turn the tables, so we will do everything to ensure that we are well prepared,” he added.
After the Loftus debacle, the Stormers scored convincing wins against Griquas and the Cheetahs before their last Unlocked game against the Sharks was called off due to Covid protocols.
“It does mess a bit with your preparation, but we had about five rounds of competition up until that scheduled Durban game, so it might even serve us well as the guys will be fresh. The guys are really determined to get back into things,” he said.
Despite losing Jason Jenkins to Japanese rugby, the Bulls still have a formidable middle row with the 2.03m Walt Steenkamp having joined them from the Cheetahs to work in tandem with the hugely promising Ruan Nortje.
“They are a very talented lock combination and it was quite evident that they had a really good understanding during their Unlocked campaign. While we respect them, it’s a different competition now,” said Moerat.
“Hopefully we can go into the Currie Cup with a clean slate and see how the competition develops from there.”
Moerat was, however, very chuffed at how his own combination with JD Schickerling had developed and pointed out what a very smart organiser he was in the line-outs.
“He brings a certain calmness to me and his contribution to the rest of the pack has really been valuable.
“I really enjoy playing with him – it’s a couple of years now – and we are starting to understand one another quite well and gelling as a combination,” he concluded.