- Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl doesn't view his expected battle with Stormers counterpart Herschel Jantjies as a grudge match.
- After making his Bok debut at the end of 2018, Van Zyl lost confidence and missed out on a World Cup spot while Jantjies seized his chance.
- Yet the duel won't matter much if the two players' respective packs don't grant them a platform of sorts.
It would be understandable if Ivan van Zyl viewed his potential showdown with Herschel Jantjies, when the Bulls host the Stormers in Super Rugby Unlocked at Loftus on Saturday, as a bit of a grudge match.
From being in an inside lane to stake a claim for a World Cup spot back at the end of 2018, the Bulls scrumhalf lost confidence along with his team-mate Embrose Papier while Jantjies seized an opportunity and shot to stardom, bagging a winner's medal to boot.
But Van Zyl, looking promisingly revitalised since local rugby's resumption, isn't reading too much into the expected battle.
Given the rocky path he and Papier have had to tread over the past two years, looking inward is far more important than external factors.
"Obviously you want to test yourself against the best in South Africa," said Van Zyl.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited for the challenge but in the end, it's all about what's going to help our team win. That's our main focus.
"Naturally, there will be smaller battles within a game and we'll see how things pan out."
Rather pragmatically, the 25-year-old, six-cap international is very conscious of how irrelevant such talk becomes if a halfback doesn't have the support of his pack of forwards, something that made life much easier for him in the 41-14 victory over the Sharks.
"The forwards provided me with a platform. Anyone who watches a bit of rugby knows that when your pack goes forward, a scrumhalf is in the pound seats. Your No 9 and 10 can then make good decisions," said Van Zyl.
"But we need to keep working hard. This week is a different challenge against a Stormers combination with a different set of players and skillsets. We'll definitely have to keep being at our best."
Undoubtedly helping that cause though is the confidence that will be taken from a fine showing against the Sharks, where the Bulls combined incisive attacking play with some robust defence.
"The win couldn't have come at a better time for us. We were a little bit stop-start in the first two matches. The important thing is to build on this position, otherwise it won't help much," said Van Zyl.
"It was small things that we needed to change, to be more clinical at crucial stages. Our decision-making was better and we identified space effectively. The key to last weekend's success was right decisions at the right time. That will need to continue."
Kick-off at Loftus is at 19:00.