Joost van der Westhuizen believes Victor Matfield is a good captain and can’t be blamed for the Bulls’ mixed results this season.
While the Bulls are still in with a shout of making the Vodacom Super 14 semi-finals for the second consecutive year, they have already lost two matches at Loftus, to the Brumbies and Hurricanes.
Throw in a draw to the Chiefs in Hamilton, a convincing defeat to the Blues in Auckland and a one-point loss to the Rubble Reds in Brisbane and it appears there are big cracks in the Bulls armour.
However, Van der Westhuizen said it was unfair for people to blame the captain for the team’s so-called demise.
“I think Victor is a good captain,” he said on Super Rugby. “When you have a team of professionals they should be the captain of their own position. I always judge a player’s commitment by what he does on defence. How can you blame a captain for tackles missed by another player?”
Van der Westhuizen didn’t mention any names, but it was Morne Steyn’s missed tackles in Hamilton, and a charged down kick, that gifted the Chiefs three tries. That 26-all draw cost the Pretoria side three log points that could prove vital in the race for the semi-finals.
Matfield’s captaincy has been in the spotlight throughout this season, most notably against the Western Force when he opted to kick for goal instead of pushing for the fourth bonus-point try when the Bulls were well ahead.
His ability to motivate the team, like Anton Leonard did so successfully during his stint as skipper, has also been questioned.
The Bulls play the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday in a match they must win if they want to sneak into the play-offs. A third home defeat, and Matfield’s head may soon be on the block.