Johannesburg - Blue Bulls utility back Johnny Kotze’s rise to prominence this season has thrust him into a leading role in the Currie Cup campaign, so much so that the former Stormers player has emerged in a leadership role that he himself would never have predicted earlier in the year.
Kotze, whose rugby journey has taken him from his birthplace in Carltonville to Bishops and the Stormers, back up country to Pretoria, now finds himself as one of the more senior players in Pote Human’s squad, and keen to make an indelible mark on the Loftus faithful, according to the supersport.com website.
Feisty and unwilling to give in, these hallmarks of his play have made him a key man in the backline in a competition where a misstep in a single-round tournament could be fatal.
So when he is asked if he is pleased at his own form, Kotze’s mind immediately turns to results and the way the Bulls fluffed their chances by a plethora of handling errors in Durban this past weekend.
“Pleased is probably not the correct word for me to choose. It has been a good year for me and had a lot of opportunities this year. I think I just have to build on what I’ve already built here and just go forward for the rest of the season,” he smiles.
But turning to Kings Park, he is brutally honest about what cost his team in a game where they created more than enough chances.
“I think we turned up, the thing that cost us was handling errors. I think our dominance was there, but we didn’t finish it at crucial times. That is probably the biggest reason why we looked like we didn’t dominate in that game,” he added.
“You fight forwards and backwards all the time and at some stage the emotion will get to you because you don’t get any reward for the goodness that you provide. I think that could lead to a bit of a downward spiral.
“No I think our handling and skills are actually on a very good level. This weekend was just one of those weekends where nothing went our way and I think the guys will pull their socks up and turn it around this week.”
Kotze preaches patience to his team-mates as many of them are anxious to account for their performance in Durban, so much so that the eagerness flows onto the field.
“Just to be patient in everything we do and not to get erratic when we get a line break or to just relax when there is a turnover and get into line and defend the play from there,” he adds.
“This competition is a short competition and every game is crucial. I don’t think there is any space for error, so that loss hurt us a bit, but I think we can’t afford any more losses and we will have to dig deep from now on.”
But returning for their first home game in round three of the competition, Kotze admits there is an excitement to getting onto the field in front of a home crowd.
“We are very excited to be at home this weekend. Home is a very special place for us. We always try to do our best here and never let a loss come here. We always try to win and we just want to play for the supporters and do our best,” he explains.
“Like I said we are on that level where we are playing really good rugby. Those small errors may make other people think we are not on a good level but if you go and look at what we have produced over the past few weeks, we are very excited and there are exciting times coming.”
And for the Bulls faithful that will head to Loftus for the Jukskei derby this Saturday, they will be hoping he is right.