The clinical execution of their game plan is Province’s biggest concern whereas the physicality of the Bulls is a secondary worry.
Arguably the biggest match on WP’s domestic calendar has arrived all too soon given recent developments. Province have lost to Boland and the Sharks in quick succession, and have also seen a new coach being appointed in the form of Gary Gold.
This team needs a win to initiate the revival of their playoff hopes and to launch the Gold era on a positive note. Captain Luke Watson told Keo.co.za his charges are marking this as a must-win game where everything will need to go according to plan.
“We often say we are going to take it game by game, but this is a crucial match,” he said. “If we win it could be a massive turning point, but if we lose it could be a massive setback. We are playing at Newlands this weekend, this is our home. It would be nice to turn it around here.
“I don’t think the physicality of the Bulls is the biggest chanllenge. Implementing our own structures and doing what we want to do is going to be the biggest challenge.”
Those who attend WP training sessions regularly will have noticed the difference in the vibe around the Province team. The players have been buzzing since Monday and there has been a sense of urgency characterising the way they practise.
Gold must be doing something right, but vibe doesn’t count for much, Saturday results are what matter.
“It’s been hectic over the past 10 days but I’m still really excited for the Bulls game,” said Gold. “It’s going to be a fantastic challenge and the enthusiasm shown by the guys at practice makes me very positive.
“It’s the most talked about rivalry in South African rugby. We respect them and what they’ve achieved, but we should be confident about our ability to beat them. There is a lot of talent in this side and I hope the guys believe that.”
A victory would do wonders for WP’s Currie Cup campaign and for the general confidence. Gold is holding thumbs, but admits they are still some way off from realising their potential.
“A win would definitely help to lift the spirits. It is still quite early, but I do think we have a long way to go in terms of ground to cover. I am positive when I think about what we’ve done in such a short space of time and we are using a style that suits our players. But at the moment, we are still a long way off from where we want to be.”
Watson concurred with his new coach. The openside flanker led the side to the playoffs last season after they suffered a stutter early o to the Sharks in Cape Town.
“Gary told us it’s an opportunity for a new start. We’ve played three games but we still have a long way to go. I think last year we were in a similar position, but we managed to do pretty well. Some of the other sides will also be missing their top players because of the World Cup and maybe we can take advantage of that.”
By Jon Cardinelli