’I’m getting better‚’ says Lizo Gqoboka
His man-of-the-match performance didn’t entirely come as a surprise but what helped Lizo Gqoboka achieve it against the Waratahs?
“Video analysis‚” said Gqoboka when asked to explain how he got the better of grizzled Waratahs and Wallaby tighthead Sekope Kepu in the Bulls’ 28-21 victory on Saturday.
“I stayed on the computer the whole week.
"I know he is a quality tighthead. I just had to do my home work‚” said Gqoboka about his preparation before facing the 103-Test veteran.
“I don’t know how they did it back in the day but it is professional now.
"You have to know your opposition. You have to know his strength and his weaknesses.
"What he does under pressure. If you do your home work on Saturday you default to the highest level of preparation.”
That has become part of the Gqoboka mantra.
Making improvements on all fronts has helped make him a more rounded player and the Bulls have reaped the benefits.
“It is very important‚" he said.
"As a loosehead these days you have to be like an extra loose forward. You can’t just scrum and walk. It is a big focus to try and better myself in every area of the game.
“I’m getting better. There’s a focus on an everyday basis. Not only on the weekends. I have to better myself every day. I’m glad we are seeing the fruits of that now.”
The Bulls’ scrum has been in the ascendancy and coach Pote Human was quite clear about what gave his side traction in the last couple of matches.
“Our scrums were incredibly good. If there is one big positive it is the way we are scrumming at the moment.
"All credit to Daan Human (scrum coach) and the front row who work very hard during the week.”
Gqoboka also pointed to the scrum coach as a source of inspiration.
“Coach Daan is doing well. He is holding everyone accountable. It is not just a front row thing. Everyone is excited for the scrums. I think that is the difference this year.
“It is an eight-man scrum. It is not just the front row or tight five. In the past flanks would be more worried about the vacuum‚ forgetting the battle at hand.
"He is very good‚ he has a good system and he holds everyone accountable. I enjoy working with him‚” said Gqoboka about the Bulls’scrum guru.
Playing with a regular prop partner in Trevor Nyakane has also helped. “Continuity is key‚” noted Gqoboka.
“We’ve scrummed together for almost three years. It is good to see us performing as a pack. You just build a relationship and confidence in each other‚” said the prop.
“It is a pleasure to have them in the squad‚” beamed the head coach Human.
“Both of them at this stage‚ is world class. I’m not the Springbok coach‚ I can’t pick them for the Springbok side but they won’t let the Boks down. That we all can see. They are in great condition.”
With Gqoboka’s stock on the rise‚ it inevitably gives rise to talk of his prospects of making his Springbok debut later this year.
He would already have been one had injury not cruelly intervened.
“I hope so‚” he said about his Bok prospects.
“But for me my focus‚ my centre of attention is on an everyday basis.
"I have to make sure I’m getting better. If that comes it is great.”