Bulldogs set to test the waters

Warmup clash against Free State juniors not just about a convincing win

Border hone their scrumming skills ahead of this weekend’s friendly
Border hone their scrumming skills ahead of this weekend’s friendly
Image: Michael Pinyana

Border Bulldogs conditioning coach Denzil van Heerden aims to use their friendly encounter against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs junior side at BCM Stadium on Friday to gauge their side for the upcoming season.

Van Heerden said the annual friendly that happens before the Currie Cup every season has always been an opportunity to have a microscopic look at their team before they partake in the new season.

“The best of conditioning is friendly games, but it has to be at this stage of the season. So a large part of this game is get our match fitness in place.

“And of course friendlies give us as the coaches the much-needed opportunity to have a look at the combinations in the team and new players.

“And lastly it also affords us a chance to look at the game plan and see if we can tweak where we feel necessary in order to be ready for the real business,” said Van Heerden.

He said those were the main areas that the Bulldogs technical staff would be focusing on when they host the cubs.

Van Heerden said there were no alarming injuries in their squad, although they were busy monitoring a few players who picked up knocks.

“We have a couple of injuries in the team. We have one wrist injury, and two of our players are having hamstring injuries.

“So it’s prudent not to field those guys in this game because we would rather have them fully recovered before we field them again.

“We are just looking for a polished performance, and we want to dominate setpieces; line-ups, scrums, kicks and rucks and other aspects of the game, because we are going to be playing a junior side.

“And from that perspective we need to dominate this team and set a good tone for the upcoming season.”

The Bulldogs’ mentor said playing this game a few days after the tragic passing of their logistics manager, Tyron Roberts, who was involved in a car crash, was unfortunate.

“We are sad and the mood is sombre, but this is life, and for the rest of the season we going to dedicate our games to him, because that’s the best we can do right now.

“He loved rugby and he loved the Bulldogs with everything in him, and may his soul rest peacefully.”

The Bulldogs won last year’s encounter, but Van Heerden stressed that the end result was not important. This was more about match fitness.

“An important point of this game is confidence, and that comes from clarity, and these games give us an idea of where we are as a team.

“And when a player is clear about their role on the field, they perform better, and these games give us a clear indication of whether the players are clear of their roles.”

The match kicks off at 3pm.