Training hard ahead of facing Gloucester this weekend, Newcastle Falcons centre Corné Uys is confident as ever that despite the 8 point gap between his side and nearest rivals London Wasps, the battle to stay in the Aviva Premiership is far from over.
“We’ve had our backs to the wall for a while now but we’re still fighting hard. The vibe amongst the squad is still confident that we’ll be in the Premiership next season. We’re 8 points behind which seems like a lot but if we can keep winning and take it to the last game of the season away at Wasps then we’re in with a chance.”
Of course, of the few places you would not want to visit when desperate to snatch a win, Kingsholm would be one of them. Newcastle travel to Gloucester this weekend as underdogs, and Uys has been impressed with the hosts performances this season. “They remind me of a New Zealand Super Rugby side, because they’ve got big forwards but then any chance they get they spread the ball out wide. Credit to them though because they’ve been playing a very exciting brand of rugby which is good to watch.
“It will be my first visit to Kingsholm, but I’ve heard some whispers from the boys this week talking about the Shed, so I’m looking forward to getting a taste of one of the great English grounds.”
A late signing after the conclusion of the 2011 Currie Cup, it has been an enjoyable if not stuttering first season in English rugby for the former Cheetahs player, after a rib injury kept him off the pitch for four weeks earlier in the season. For the next three games and beyond however, if there’s a position for Uys on the pitch, he’ll welcome it with open arms.
“I feel like I’m in good shape. When I arrived I was instantly into the side so that took some getting used to and it’s been a bit stop-start with injuries. I’ve spent some time on the wing which I first did back with Gary Gold at Western Province a couple of years ago, but I’ve played most of my rugby in the centre. In terms of positions though I just want to be on that pitch and contributing wherever I can.”
Given he was playing Super Rugby for the Bloemfontein outfit this time last year, the bonds between Uys and his former teammates remain strong. “I’m very good friends with guys like Robert Ebersohn and the rest of the boys so we still keep in touch on Twitter. If I can catch one Super Rugby game on the weekend it will always be the Cheetahs.”
One Cheetah who has really shone this season has been young fly-half Johan Goosen, with the 19 year old already racking up 100 points. With a future playing Test rugby on the cards, Uys believes the youngster has what it takes to be a star in the international game.
“I played with him during the Currie Cup last year and he’s definitely got the makings of a great player. It’s one thing having the talent but it’s about having a good head on your shoulders as well and that’s where I think he shines. For such a young guy, it looks like he’s been playing Super Rugby for four or five seasons. There’s something about that area in Bloemfontein where they generate these kickers with monster boots such as Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn and now Johan as well. It might be too soon for him to be involved with the Springboks this summer, but he isn’t far off.”
Back to Newcastle, and whatever happens at the end of this season, Uys won’t be going anywhere. Committed to the cause with his three-year contract running until 2014, his only focus for the moment is to start the 2012/2013 campaign with a bang on the back of a solid pre-season, ideally in the Premiership.
“The first couple of months here were tough being an Afrikaans speaking Geordie, but I’m in a good place at the moment and my wife is also settled which is great. I’m very much looking forward to having a good pre-season over the summer, whatever league we’re in. I will see out of my contract whether we go down or not, but for now all my focus is on keeping Newcastle in the Premiership.”
by Ben Coles