‘No place to hide’ at Loftus




Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Saturday will not be a place for the faint-hearted. This is the view of Chiefs fly-half Stephen Donald, as he looked ahead to his team’s Round Four Super 14 encounter with the Bulls.

The Chiefs, winless and second from the bottom of the standings after three weeks, are hoping to turn their season around against a team (the Bulls) equally desperate to come back from two defeats in three starts.

Having lost all three their matches by seven points or less (to collect bonus points in all three matches), Donald feels it is the “small things” that will turn it around for them.

But he is also aware that it is a tall order to produce that turnaround on the remainder of their South African tour – which features this week’s showdown with the Bulls and an encounter with the Cheetahs a week later.

“There’s no better place than Loftus to do it in the Super 14, to turn everything around,” Donald told this website.

“You pretty well know that at Loftus they [the Bulls] are a pretty formidable unit.

“Obviously they have a massive pack,” he added.

So how do you beat the Bulls?

Donald, who is struggling to overcome a groin strain and may miss the Bulls encounter, feels the Western Force – who scored an historic 30-27 win against the Bulls at Loftus last Friday – showed how it could be done.

“You can take a bit from the Force’s win. They [the Force] are probably not know for their massive pack, but they came away with the points, so there’s a bit to be taken from what the Force did last week

“You just got to meet them [the Bulls] head-on.

“You know there’s nowhere to hide at Loftus. It is going to be a big battle and obviously we got to take them on head-on really.”

Donald said the Chiefs believe they are much better than what the results in the first three weeks suggest. He said they are simply not making the most of their opportunities.

“We don’t think we’re a bad team [that deserves to be second from the bottom], but at the moment we’re not taking our opportunities when they present themselves,” the 23-year-old first five-eighths said.

However, with several star players in the All Black conditioning camp or injured, the Chiefs are struggling to get going.

“We have to work for everything we get. But we’re just letting the opportunities slip, which in our current position we can’t afford to.”

He said it is all the small things – the odd “dropped pass”, the odd “not realising the situation” and the odd missed goal-kick – are holding them back at the moment.

“It is nothing drastic, just the guys doing their jobs pretty much,” he said, adding that lapses of concentration could also contribute to their downfall.

Donald, who returned to the Chiefs squad for his third season with the franchise this year, said there are a few things he personally still need to work on.

“Mainly running this team and running this ship is something I could work on. Then my kicking skills … I missed a sitter against the Stormers, which ended up costing us pretty badly. So that’s something I can work on.

“It certainly requires me to step up as far as this team goes.”

Donald is regarded as a well-rounded first five-eighth who easily mixes running, passing and kicking into his game.

As he said this season he has also taken on more of a leadership role within the midfield, due to the departure of Chiefs veteran David Hill.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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