Cautious Gqoboka is wary of a Chiefs backlash

PRETORIA – The Bulls may face a different challenge when they take on the Chiefs on Saturday, although the Pretoria side are unlikely to veer too far from their effective 2019 blueprint.

Their engine room has made all the difference in the first month of the Super Rugby competition which saw the Bulls top the South African Conference after the fourth week of action.

The Bulls lineout has been exceptional despite the loss of lynchpin lock Lood de Jager.

But is it their scrummaging in their win 37-14 win over the Sharks that has signalled a complete overhaul in the pack?

Scrum guru Daan Human’s hand is clearly visible in this set piece while Schalk Brits also provide some Northern Hemisphere expertise.

Perhaps the most important part of the equation is the fact that props Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane are flourishing and anchoring the scrum.

Gqoboka, who spent eight months on the sidelines due to a toe injury, has been playing like a man possessed as part of a formidable front row.

“We had a nice blend this season in the set piece where the tighties are focused and try to dominate that area of the game,” Gqoboka said.

“When it comes to open play everyone is ‘lights on’ so I believe we have a nice balance this year and we hope to continue with that.”

B18DVSM116 - Cautious Gqoboka is wary of a Chiefs backlash
Lizo Gqoboka is tackled by Billy Meakes of Rebels during their Super Rugby match against the Rebels last year. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The Bulls heavyweight said they have been working hard in the scrums as they expected an onslaught in every single Super Rugby match.

“Every front row you come up against in Super Rugby is quality so we are just focusing on our processes and what we are trying to do here at the Bulls,” he said.

“Daan (Human) is a world-class coach, it’s been great working with him. He has experience and has played overseas himself.

"I think we are taking steps in the right direction.”

The Chiefs got their campaign off to an abysmal start, losing four of their first five matches including heavy defeats to the Brumbies, Crusaders and Sunwolves before playing to a 23-23 draw with the Hurricanes over the weekend.

Gqoboka warned the Chiefs should not be underestimated as they may not have had the bounce of the ball going their way so far this season. Last season they reached the quarter-final.

“They are unpredictable and I actually think they are playing well and it is just that they’ve been a bit unlucky sometimes with things like offloads not sticking,” Gqoboka said.

“It is not that they are a bad side and I am just looking forward to playing them here at Loftus on Saturday.

“We don’t underestimate anyone, we just focus on improving.”

@ockertde



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