Experience boosts Bulls backs

Wynand Olivier believes the arrival of Jaco van der Westhuyzen and Frikkie Welsh has had a massive impact on the Bulls backline.

Van der Westhuyzen joined up with the Bulls during their overseas tour after being released from his contract with Japanese side NEC Green Rockets. Welsh, who had a stint with English Premiership side Bath, made his first appearance for the Pretoria franchise on the left wing last weekend and had another strong game against the Sharks.

“Jaco and Frikkie have brought so much experience to the side,” Olivier said on All-Out Rugby. “They keep the rest of us calm and have made a big difference to our play.”

The Bulls kept their slim semi-final hopes alive with a 34-27 win over the Natalians at Loftus, but Olivier admitted it could have gone either way.

“JP Nel’s try in the second half was vital otherwise it might have been a draw,” he said. “We are really looking forward to Saturday’s game. The Stormers showed us that the Crusaders can be beaten.”

Olivier copped a lot of flak after a poor defensive effort against the Brumbies in round two, but has been rock-solid ever since. He insisted the negative press hadn’t upset him.

“I took it as positive criticism,” he said. “It doesn’t help reading the papers and then feeling bad about it. It’s up to the player to get back onto the field and fix things.”

With the Springbok squad set to be announced at the end of May, Olivier is one of many fringe players hoping to get a call-up. However, the Bulls centre said he wouldn’t be too upset if he missed out this time around.

“It won’t helped to sulk if I don’t make it,” he said. “I’ll just try harder and aim to do well in the Currie Cup. Then hopefully I’ll get a chance to tour with the Springboks on the end-of-year tour.”

- Read more about Olivier in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine