Frikkie feeling pressure

After the slow start to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Absa Currie Cup campaign, captain Frikkie Welsh is not a happy man.

Welsh has been in charge for three matches – a narrow 2-point win over the Valke at Loftus Versfeld, a relatively comfortable win over the hapless Lions and the defeat to bitter rivals Western Province last weekend.

And in that match against Province, Welsh was sin-binned. It was a factor in the Bulls losing out in the end. Now he has been switched from inside centre to outside centre for tomorrow’s clash with the Pumas after JP Nel was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

“It hasn’t all gone to plan just yet,” Welsh told keo.co.za, “but we have worked hard this week to sort out the problem areas and we are confident for the Pumas game.”

Welsh will partner Dries Scholtz, making his first appearance for the Blue Bulls in a Currie Cup match since the 2002 final win over the Lions.

“Dries and I have played a lot together and I’m looking forward to having him there. It promises to be very physical and I’m definitely up for it,” said Welsh.

Welsh though is viewed as a bit of a utility player and has played both midfield positions and wing this season. He was also tipped in some quarters as a possible addition to Jake White’s Springbok squad for the away leg of the Tri-Nations.

“Personally I’m just happy to pull the Blue Bulls jersey on. I give it my all for the team whenever I play no matter what position that is. In the squad we have the talent, we just lack consistency at the moment, but I think that will come at the weekend.”

The pressure for Welsh is on, especially with the Cheetahs and Sharks setting a furious pace in the race for the coveted home semi-finals. In fact if the Cheetahs and Sharks win this weekend and the Bulls lose in Witbank it could spell disaster already.

The match kicks-off at 3pm on Saturday.

Vodacom Blue Bulls team v Pumas:

15 Stefan Basson, 14 John Mametsa, 13 Frikkie Welsh (captain), 12 Dries Scholtz, 11 Marius Delport, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Heini Adams; 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Tim Dlulane, 6 Warren Brosnihan, 5 Francois van Schouwenburg, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Wessel Roux.
Replacements: 16 Kobus van der Walt, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Hottie Louw, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Neil Powell, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 Johan Roets.

By Andrew Hollely