EP Kings' way 'opposite' to Bulls, but Agaba admits intel is scarce

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Tim Agaba. (Photo by Johan Rynners/Gallo Images)
Tim Agaba. (Photo by Johan Rynners/Gallo Images)
  • Ex-King Tim Agaba believes he and his Bulls team-mates can expect a running game from the Eastern Province outfit this weekend, but also admits intel is scarce.
  • The experienced 31-year-old flanker also argues that the Bulls should preoccupy themselves with impressing the coaching staff and executing their own plans.
  • Agaba is keen to put pressure on a group of loose forwards oozing talent and class.

Tim Agaba knows enough about rugby in the Eastern Cape to know that he has some idea of what the Eastern Province Kings will bring to the preparation series yet concedes that he and the Bulls also know very little.

The Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup champions host Peter de Villiers' charges at Loftus on Sunday and have been making a concerted effort to find some form of "intelligence" on their opponents.

Agaba's stint in Port Elizabeth between 2013 and 2015 itself matters little given how much has changed since then.

"It's been about trying to study them to an extent," the imposing 31-year-old flanker said on Tuesday.

"We've seen the Kings playing for quite some time and things have changed a lot. I doubt anything is really the same as it was when I was there. That was quite some time ago."

However, what is well known is that De Villiers - despite achieving notable success as Springbok coach by focusing on so-called traditional strengths - remains a prophet of a multi-faceted, skilful type of game.

"If you think generally, Eastern Cape sides - Border included - normally a running brand of rugby," said Agaba.

"So I definitely think we can expect something like that. Typically they play the opposite sort of game that the Bulls would play, but we won't just rest on that.

"We'll prepare accordingly and execute what we can. We just have to apply ourselves and not concern ourselves with what they'll do because it's difficult to do so anyway at this stage."

Agaba himself will probably be far more preoccupied anyway with using the series as a platform for reminding the coaching staff, headed by Jake White, that he too can keep a prodigious group of loose forwards on their toes.

The former Blitzbok, who won a bronze medal with the team at the Rio Olympics, has been dogged by injury over the past few years but 2020/21 was relatively serene on that front.

The recruitment of Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw and Nizaam Carr during lockdown complicated his claim for a starting spot though Duane Vermeulen's injury-enforced absence and Botha's gradual reintegration has presented him with an opportunity.

"I don't take it for granted that I'll automatically fill the spots vacated, but there's definitely a chance for someone to step up and show their worth," said Agaba.

"If that person is me, I'd obviously grab it with both hands and try to reasonably solidify a place in the team."

He's also more than willing to do that by assuming a more senior player type role in the absence of many first-choice candidates.

"Considering my age, I'm not the youngest squad member around but my body feels pretty young," the Uganda-born Agaba said with a chuckle.

"There are a couple of older guys around to complement the younger ones. I probably can consider myself a senior player, but it's really just about us showing the coaches what we can bring." 

Kick-off at Loftus on Sunday is at 15:00.

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