Kobus van der Merwe battled for superlatives to describe Luke Watson’s performance in the 73-5 downing of the Spears in Wellington on Saturday.
Describing the rejuvenated flanker’s display as “extraordinary”, van der Merwe enthused about what he expects will be a devestating return to form in the Super 14.
“Luke Watson was extraordinary today,” Van der Merwe told the Cape media. “I said a few weeks back that he’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen, and that showed on the field. He had a huge impact on the game. Luke was very, very good tonight.”
Van der Merwe felt Watson’s display, allied with that of Schalk Burger operating as a specialist blindsider, highlighted the fact that the two complement each other well in the same back row.
“Schalk is a very good ball carrier, and today it was evident just how difficult he is to tackle. He has a fetching role on the blindside as well, and managed both comfortably. Luke and Schalk work together very well.”
The main concern from Saturday’s display, the performance of Peter Grant, did not alarm Van der Merwe. He stated the under-fire 10 will start against the Cats in a fortnight
“Peter has improved a lot from where he was at the beginning of last season. There’s still a lot of work to do, and he has to work exceptionally hard on his kicking game. He was a bit rusty, with two or three passes not going to hand, but we’ll go with Peter against the Cats. We back him to deliver.”
Ultimately Van der Merwe reflected on a performance he deemed satisfactory.
“The first 20 minutes were very frustrating, they just came to spoil. Today was a good example of building an innings. The lesson from today is how important it is not to make any mistakes against a side out to disrupt you, whilst maintaining the pressure all the time.
“Every time we kept the ball for longer then three phases we put points on the board. I was a bit worried after the first 20 minutes, I could see we were trying 50/50 offloads and there were one or two bad passes. Thankfully though after that we settled down and stuck to our structures. The Bulls showed last week that quality teams make it count in the last 20 minutes of games. That’s when you convert pressure into points.”