What do you think will the result be in Saturday's Absa Currie Cup match between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Vodacom Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld?
Bulls by more than eight points.
Bulls by between one and seven points.
Cheetahs by between one and seven points.
Cheetahs by more than eight points.

Mr Safe Hands – Johan Roets
In an era where players are always looking for a fast track to success, Johan Roets is a perfect example that patience is a virtue.

“Roetsie” is not your average star as he never played Craven Week rugby. In fact, he could at one stage only make the Affies under-15 C team.

When he arrived at Tukkies, rugby was the furthest thing from his mind and Johan was content to play social rugby for his res. Fortunately, he caught some coach’s eye and he was picked to play for the university’s under-19 team. From this point onwards, his sailing became a lot smoother.

After making the Tuks under-21 side, he was also picked for the Blue Bulls under-21’s. A good season with his provincial side also saw him being picked for the SA under-21’s. Johan also represented the SA under-23’s on his way to becoming a regular member of the senior Blue Bulls setup. Roets feels that it took him a while to come through the ranks but this prepared him to be ready for the challenge when it arrived.

Johan is enjoying his injury-free spell and just to be part of the Blue Bulls’ campaign of making it three Currie Cups in a row. “The team has not yet found its rhythm,” says Roets. “This is a good side, but we just haven’t clicked. Yet, we are top of the log which is a very handy position to be in when you know you can still improve.”

Roets has really caught the eye this year with his uncanny ability to regather his own high kicks. To Johan, this is something that has always come naturally. “Geo Cronjé and Victor Matfield never practice taking kick-offs because they are naturally talented to take those balls and it is the same with me. I have always backed myself to take a high ball,” Roetsie explains. “It has a lot to do with your attitude and confidence and if you add timing to that, you are going to be successful most of the time.”

The Blue Bulls’ back three have recently come under scrutiny as a defensive weak point, but Roets warns future opponents that exploiting the Blue Bulls out wide will not be a cakewalk. “We have worked hard at our weaknesses and teams will find that we don’t give away points without a fight.”

Roets also wants to get into the action a little more on the attack. “Recently, we have reverted back to a more conservative pattern because we were turning over too many balls at the rucks. That problem seems to be sorted out, so hopefully the backs will be able to express themselves a bit more in the future.”

This will also help Roetsie to achieve his ultimate goal of donning the Green and Gold. “Any provincial player aims to make the next step up, which is to play for the Springboks. If we can shift the ball a bit more and I can lift my own game a bit, I could show what I can do and I might be in with a chance. But at the moment my focus is just on helping the Blue Bulls retain the Currie Cup. That is our first responsibility. Everything else is a bonus.”

As one of the few players in the current setup whose involvement with the team predates the arrival of the current coach, Heyneke Meyer, Roetsie reminisces about the changes at the union.

“Just about everything has changed. “Coach” has changed all the structures and implemented his own, especially as far as his approach towards skills, defensive and attacking patterns and our physical conditioning is concerned. Everyone, even the junior side, is coached the same way.

“In the past, there was also a huge distinction between the junior and senior players in the squad, but now everyone is equal and I really think the team spirit has improved.”

Roetsie’s advice to young players is to take a leaf from his book. “Young players are always asking me what they should do to make a provincial breakthrough even as young as under-19. You get special players like Derick Hougaard who are ready for the big time at that age, but they are the exception rather than the rule. My advice is not to focus on making a side at all costs, but rather to play your rugby to the best of your ability and to enjoy it.”

Other articles by Up close and personal with
  • Rayno Gerber and Hottie Louw
  • The jack in the box Heinie Adams
  • The Lineout King Victor Matfield
  • Fourie du Preez
  • The Hotstepper - Ettienne Botha

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    Venue: Loftus Versfeld
    Date: 30 September Time: 17:00
    Full fixtures

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    Vodacom Free State Cheetahs1349
    Vodacom Blue Bulls1345
    Vodacom Western Province1344
    The Sharks1343
    Wildeklawer Griquas1325
    Medicover Valke1317
    @lantic Pumas134
    Full log

    23 September
    Lions 42 - 36 Western Province
    Cheetahs 37 - 35 The Sharks
    Griquas 22 - 60 Blue Bulls
    22 September
    Valke 64 - 41 Pumas
    16 September
    The Sharks 32 - 50 Blue Bulls
    Western Province 66 - 13 Valke
    Full results

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