The Blue Bulls may be ‘riding the crest of the wave’ and Western Province are ‘down in the dumps’. However, when they go head-to-head in a Currie Cup Round Nine encounter in Pretoria on Saturday, expect nothing less than another brutal encounter.
Jan de Koning of Rugby 365 writes that the Bulls’ former South African Schools lock, Wilhelm Steenkamp, is expecting nothing less than a “typical north-south derby” when the two sides meet at Loftus Versfeld.
Despite Province being on the slide – having lost four of their last five matches, including defeats against lowly Griquas and the Falcons – and the Bulls sitting pretty near the top of the table after winning five of their last six games, Steenkamp made it clear that they won’t be underestimating the visitors from the Western Cape.
Steenkamp, born in Calvinia and still rolling his Rs in that distinctive Karoo fashion, regards himself as a true Blue Bull.
However, he is truly appreciative of the traditions of Western Province rugby and feels the WP players will be up for a big scrap on Saturday.
“Province remain a dangerous team,” Steenkamp told rugby365.com, adding that you can “never write off the men from the Cape”.
He admitted that WP’s form may not be the best, but doesn’t feel the results have done justice to the talent in the team.
“We approach this like every other [north-south] derby, just as if they [WP] are at the top of their game,” he said, adding: “There’s no change in our approach and we expect them to come at us, because they remain a top team.”
He said the key to the Bulls’ success this season has been continuity.
“We have been playing with basically the same team, so we have been building some good continuity,” he told this website.
“The guys are trusting each other and the team spirit is great – it is going really well.”
Steenkamp, who played Craven Week rugby for WP in 2003 and for the South African Schools team that same year, was schooled at Paarl Boys High.
However, in 2004 he was lured to Pretoria where he played age-grade and Vodacom Cup rugby, before making his Currie Cup and Super 14 debuts for the Bulls in 2007.
Now he is a regular in the Bulls starting XV and having experienced a couple of north-south derbies – including a 17-26 loss to Province in Round Two of the Currie Cup back in June – Steenkamp is keen to continue his rise up the domestic rankings when they run out in front of their home fans at Loftus on Saturday.
Despite that distinctive accent and admitting that at heart he is still a ‘Karoo boy’, Steenkamp is now ‘true blue’ that will give everything for the Bulls’ cause.
“I am enjoying my rugby at the moment,” he said of his time at the Bulls, where the pack has gelled into a unit that “understand each other and know what the other players are all about”.
“Each player knows exactly what his job is,” he said.
Like all players he does have aspirations of one day getting a Springbok call-up, but for now his goals are much closer to home.
“I firstly want to win the Currie Cup this year,” he said.
“I want to be part of a Blue Bull Currie Cup-winning team and you never know what happens after that. But my priority now is to be part of a Currie Cup winning team,” he added.Tweet