Vodacom Western Province coach Kobus van der Merwe is grinning like a Cheshire Cat at the moment, as his underdog team continues to go from strength to strength.
When asked the rhetorical yet valid question of how he felt after the 20-13 victory over Free State, he just chuckled and retorted, “Do you really want to know?”
The man who was vilified in the media after the Vodacom Stormers poor showing earlier this year could hardly contain himself, but managed to shift the focus onto his captain, Luke Watson. It seems that the longer Jake White turns a blind eye to his form the longer WP will benefit.
“A lot of the credit for this win needs to go to Luke’s captaincy. In fact, we have put in a new clause in his contract that states that he may not play Springbok rugby until the end of the domestic season,” he joked.
He did, however, stress the need for Province to stay grounded. “It’s still a very long season, so we won’t be getting too excited yet. Look how Griquas beat the Sharks in Kimberely. We’re playing the Valke this week and it will be tough up there.”
The coach was at a loss for the turn around in the Cape Town side’s fortunes. “It feels nice to get it right for a change. Since the Vodacom Super 14, we’ve grown as a team and the coach has learnt a lot,” said Van Der Merwe.
Watson was also in a vibrant mood when he commented on the win. “I was a great supporter of WP rugby even before I went to play for the Sharks,” he said. “I loved the running, creative rugby they played. We are now starting to play the same type of rugby and moving away from the conservative.”
During Saturday’s game WP put together an enterprising move that spanned the length of the field, but in the end lock Gerrie Britz could not hold the final pass. Watson highlights this moment as a great reflection of how well they are playing and how close they are as a team.
“We are enjoying our rugby, and we are actually smiling on the field. I mean, when Gerrie knocked that ball on, I ran up to him and gave him a high-five. I high-fived him not because he knocked it on, but because he was there to take the final pass. That was what was important to me. Even though he is a lock, he was right up there.”
By Jon Cardinelli