'Calm' Carr becomes timely and intriguing Bulls captaincy option

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Skipper Nizaam Carr on the charge for the Bulls against Eastern Province at Loftus Versfeld. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Skipper Nizaam Carr on the charge for the Bulls against Eastern Province at Loftus Versfeld. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Nizaam Carr not only reminded the Bulls of his worth against the Elephants this past weekend, but also his captaincy credentials.
  • The 29-year-old flanker played a major role in keeping his young team-mates calm and keeping their structure during the match. 
  • An expanding leadership group will please mentor Jake White, particularly with a busy year ahead.

While Nizaam Carr merely wanted to use a rare start for the Bulls in the preparation series to stake a claim for a more permanent spot, his outing against the Eastern Province at the weekend had the added bonus of showing off his captaincy credentials.

The 87-10 victory over a generally hapless Elephants combination wasn't exactly the most stressful on-field environment to operate in, but the 29-year-old flanker's leadership was notable for the fact that he kept a young and enthusiastic playing XV focused.

"I really enjoyed the way he captained the side," said Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby.

"He was captaining a young group of players that were 0-3 down early. He was calm and got them to understand the messages that went through to them. I believe he can offer us a lot over the next couple of seasons."

The Bulls had indeed been stifled initially by referee Stuart Berry's strict interpretations at the breakdown before Carr rounded off a rolling maul towards the try-line that kickstarted the rout, while his willingness to run with the ball made White's instruction to avoid rucks seem loud and clear.

With the Rainbow Cup and PRO16 looming large later this year, the five-cap Springbok's performance is a timely reminder that he should at least be considered part of the franchise's leadership group.

The remainder of regular skipper Duane Vermeulen's stay at Loftus is not likely to be a particularly long one, while Gio Aplon's long-term injury means the Bulls currently only have one official vice-captain currently.

"I was happy with Nizaam's performance in general," said White.

"He's a good rugby player. We saw it. From our own try-line, he picks the ball up, runs and creates. He's a fine athlete. To know that he can play 6,7 and 8 as he does is really great for us."

As a result of the direction provided by Carr and other more experienced players such as the halfback pairing of Embrose Papier and Chris Smith, the Bulls managed to flourish without becoming too flaky.

And that pleased White no end.

"For once, we played the type of rugby again that we delivered in that pre-season game against the Sharks last season," he said.

"I'm just happy that we showed again that we can play a different type of rugby. I know it was fairly easy - and I say that with respect to EP - but the fact that we could still maintain our structure was great.

"So often in these types of games, when you're far ahead, the match becomes too individualistic and we really kept things together well, even with all the chopping and changing during the match."  

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