‘Raging Bull’ Van Der Linde

Springbok CJ van der Linde could be set to revolutionize the prop position in 2007, as he rampages through defences. 365 Digital spoke to him about the Cheetahs campaign, recovering from a sharp loss, and his bullocking dashes for the tryline.

Van der Linde’s power in attack is something he has bottled up inside for some time now, choosing instead to focus on the core fundamentals of tighthead propping – the scrums, the lineouts, the restarts – but coach Rassie Erasmus is liberating the bull within him.

However, Erasmus’s plans have seen Van der Linde playing most of his rugby off the bench. But this does not worry the team man Van der Linde.

“Playing off the bench doesn’t worry me. It doesn’t matter where I start from, just that I get to play.

“Rassie has told me he is going to use me in the second half and he has asked me to try get out there and run with the ball. And as it turns out, it hasn’t gone too bad for me, though there are still improvements I would like to make.

“Rassie rotates us very well, and it is actually really great having five quality props in one squad.

“I’m happy with my role; here at Free State we love to run with the ball.”

Playing off the bench has meant Van Der Linde has been covering both tighthead and loosehead prop, positions Van der Linde is adept in, although it is clear where his favour lies.

“I consider myself a tighthead prop, although playing on the left does give me more opportunities to run with the ball.”

Van der Linde does admit that the new scrummaging laws “took a while to get used to”, and it does alter the dynamics of scrummaging a little.

“The calls do favour lighter packs, as before you could stand further part and get the hit with your weight. Now it is more about speed and power.”

The 26-year-old is something of a Test veteran now, having notched up 33 Test caps already – a significant number for a prop of his age, but at the moment he is focussed upon his Super rugby committments.

“I just want to play, and hopefully the injuries will stay away. Everybody hopes to be in the Bok squad, and hopefully that will come again for me this year.”

As for being rested, Van Der Linde believes with his current role as an impact player, he will be able to stay fresh throughout the campaign.

Van der Linde reckons the Cheetahs will quickly bounce back from Saturday’s hard defeat at the hands of the defending champions the Crusaders, especially as they host the Chiefs in Bloemfontein on Friday, a side who will no doubt be hungry for their first win of the season.

“We were a bit down, but we had a session where we looked at our mistakes, and now the mood is good. We are positive because we are going to rectify them.

“This week we have been covering our set pieces and our defence once again – Rassie is a coach who leaves nothing undone.

“The Chiefs are a physical side, and we plan to step our game up when they come.”

 

365 Digital

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