Fourie du Preez will captain the Bulls in Victor Matfield’s absence against the Stormers at Newlands next Saturday in a warm-up for the Super 14.
The progression is interesting as the one aspect of Du Preez’s game that has been constantly criticised has been his tendancy to keep quiet and disengage from the verbals normally associated with scrumhalves.
As captain that would surely have to change, but coach Heyneke Meyer believes that Matfield’s injury allows Du Preez the chance to grow into the role.
“Victor’s injury is good and bad news for the Bulls,” Meyer told Beeld.
“As captain and top lineout lock he obviously playes a very important role in our Super 14 planning, but Fourie would in any case have taken over the captaincy at one time or another because Victor cannot play in every game.
“Fourie will now get the chance against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
“Fourie’s baptism of fire as captain is earlier than planned, but on the other hand it’s happening in our remaining two warm-up matches and not in the Super 14 series. There will be much less pressure on Fourie, which makes Victor’s injury a mixed blessing.”
Meyer expressed his satisfaction that both his sides recorded victories against two Cats line ups at Ellis Park.
“The two victories over the Cats were a good start, but you must not attach too much weight to the results.
“The performance of the young players and the fact that we played more structured rugby than in the traditional first matches of the season were very encouraging.
“The matches also underlined our depth especially among the outside backs.”
Despite some members of the Stormers camp already preparing for a full-strength Bulls side, Meyer stated he would not send his first XV down to Cape Town.
“We are not going to field our best possible team against the Stormers.
“I would like to see some of the guys who played for the Bulls for the first time against the Cats again, because they haven’t really mastered our playing pattern. I also want to make further experiments against the Stormers.”
Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe is expected to do similarly, with a virtual 2nd XV likely to be used against the Bulls and the 1st XV due for a run the following weekend against the Spears in Wellington.