Johannesburg - Blue Bulls scrumhalf Andre Warner isn’t a man to mince his words.
While his team came unstuck by their own doing at Kings Park on Saturday in their Currie Cup match, their next outing at Loftus Versfeld against neighbours, the Lions is one of utmost importance to him and his team-mates, according to supersport.com website.
“We owe the Lions one so we are looking forward to Saturday being at home again. A short competition, only six rounds, so it is a big game for us, especially at home,” he said on Monday, underlining the importance of the game to his side after their blip against the Sharks.
The Bulls aren’t too upset about their opening two fixtures, winning handsomely away from home in Bloemfontein before coming unstuck in Durban. But it is their own mistakes that cost them a chance in Durban as they had more than enough chances that were fluffed.
“Yes, we had a good start in Bloem and our confidence was high against the Sharks. I think we did good stuff in the game, and if we took more opportunities. We had more opportunities to win the game, and that is a great positive for us. Today the guys got here and they were a bit down, but we sorted it out and we are positive again and we’re looking forward to the weekend,” he added.
“We reviewed it in the video and I think it was a combination of what we did in the week last week. We had a few handling errors in training and sometimes that creeps into the game. And sometimes you aren’t mentally in the right space. We made small mistakes and that cost us over the weekend.”
Warner said he was looking forward to facing Springbok Ross Cronje this weekend.
“It is a great opportunity always, every opportunity that you get to play is always great, especially against a guy like Ross. I respect him a lot, he had a good game against Griquas. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he added.
And while he is the third scrumhalf of three young stars the Bulls have, Warner isn’t too disheartened by the fact that Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier have both become Springboks in recent times.
“It’s a difficult question. We are a tight group of guys, and especially scrumhalves and we learn from each other. Me and Ivan have been playing against each other for years. Papier has also come into the mix, talented guys, I’m happy for them. It is tough for me but I am happy for them. I will always keep on fighting for an opportunity. It’s tough but I am happy for the guys. I know if I get the opportunity they will be happy for me.”
Warner’s kicking game has been one of his strong points. And he hopes to use it well this weekend once again.
“Yes always. It has always been part of the Bulls game plan. It comes down to execution. If you execute it and put it in the right areas, if it is contestable. We want our wings to get up in the air and we feel that even if it is not a 50-50 kick, we use it as a way to relieve pressure on us and put it on them.
"We just need to play the situation, that is what we need to pride on. Coach Hayden Groepes, that is what he tells us every week, don’t go say you will kick every ball, you’ve still got to play the opportunity. If the opportunity is on to run, we will run it. But if the opportunity is to relieve pressure, it is our jobs as 9s and 10s to get us out of our half.”
Against the Lions though, he believes his forwards need to take control and stop the Lions from getting their maul going.
“I think to stay in the fight. They have a good set piece, we need to stop their set piece. Their scrum and they have good mauls. I think they score the most maul tries in Super Rugby. Marvin Orie is still playing and that is a big part of us. But our forwards will sort that out - Lood and coach Pote (Human) will sort that out. Just stay in the moment and if the opportunity arises, we have to take it, not like last weekend against the Sharks.
“We are confident, not one guy in our team doubts himself. That is something that comes from coach Pote. He speaks every week about not playing with fear. Even with the weekend where there was a few mistakes, the guys will still go out there with no fear. No pressure on them and I feel that brings the best out of the player.”
The Lions have had a significant advantage over the Bulls, beating them twice in Super Rugby this year.