Chasing Cheetahs ghosts

Despite some protests to the contrary, Bulls fullback Johan Roets has admitted to keo.co.za that the Currie Cup final still haunts many of his teammates as last year’s semi-finalists gear up for the rematch with the Cheetahs on Friday.

“Look there’s no point lying about this,” a frank Roets stated. “The Currie Cup final does have a bearing on this game whether we like it or not. The game is certainly still fresh in our memories, and whilst we have moved past the disappointment of losing, the bitter aftertaste hasn’t disappeared completely.”

In a cruel unfolding of events, it was Roets’ collision with Fourie du Preez whilst jumping for the same ball that resulted in the match winning score by replacement back Meyer Bosman. The error followed 78 minutes of flawless rugby from Roets, in which he was easily the best player on the park.

“At the moment I’m trying not to think about that game too much, although I suppose it’ll creep in occasionally. When you lose in a final, it’s a lot easier to remember the things that went wrong rather than the good things that day. Anyway the truth of that day is that you can’t win them all, and I can promise that we are very motivated to make amends on Friday.”

Despite a pre-season injury, Roets has recovered sufficiently in the past few weeks to ensure he is a certain starter, and he will survey a backline that’s become very familiar.

“The one thing about our side that’s very exciting this year is the continuity. We had a very similar backline for most of last year, and so now we have experience in our backs, which is not something we could always say. Everyone talks about the Bulls’ pack, and rightly so, but there is quality in our backs and sufficient depth for us to be very confident in our back play.”

Roets, who was amongst the unluckiest in the country to be excluded from Jake White’s end-of-year tour squad, admits to some dark moments in the last few months.

“Straight after the squad was announced it was difficult for me to hide my disappointment. To be honest I didn’t quite know what more I had to do. But I’ve thought about it now and come to the conclusion that I can’t pick myself. All I can do is focus on my own game and performing every week for the Bulls. I have to perform well in more than just one season, I have to knock the door down now.

“Percy [Montgomery] is maybe not playing his best rugby at the moment, but that’s not something that I’m considering. All I can control is my game, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

Roets’ performance in the Currie Cup final showcased that there are few better exponents of solidity under the high ball in the country, and despite his impressive showing, he expects a similar barrage in Bloem on Friday.

“I’m expecting a barrage, I’m sure they’ll kick a lot on me ‘cos it suits their style of play. They have a strong pack and they back their lineout. But I’m prepared for it, I can’t wait.”