Bulls must almost play a bit like Toulouse by keeping the ball up and moving them around, says Jake White

Jake White know the mammoth task his team faces when they take on Toulouse. Photo: Luca Sighinolfi/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Jake White know the mammoth task his team faces when they take on Toulouse. Photo: Luca Sighinolfi/INPHO/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Apr 1, 2023


Cape Town - Everywhere you look in the Toulouse team, there is either a French Test player, an overseas international, or a top-class foreigner.

In stark contrast, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie are the only real Bulls contenders who might feature at this year’s Rugby World Cup.

That is the enormity of the task facing Jake White’s side in tomorrow’s Champions Cup last-16 encounter at Stadium de Toulouse (4pm SA time kickoff), but it is one that the Pretoria outfit are not shying away from.

“I knew, but what people saw last week… Look at the injection Kurt-Lee and Canan brought to us against Ulster, having not played for two months,” White said from the southern French city yesterday.

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“And if we could have 10 of those guys running out onto the field – like as other franchises do – then you can imagine the kind of bonus you are going to get.

“We are very thankful that we’ve got two guys like that who can inspire and bring a bit of difference to our group.

“But in context, that’s two that we have, whereas other franchises have 10 or 11 of those guys. That’s part of where we are and especially where I am. I am trying to produce a team where we too can have 10 or 11 guys coming back from national duty.

“If you have that, you give yourself a far better chance to be a dominant team in every competition.”

At least the Bulls have an unchanged starting team that they will hope will provide further cohesion and continuity following last week’s much-improved display against Ulster – with the only change on the bench, where former Lions stalwart Dylan Smith replaces Simphiwe Matanzima, who returned home from Belfast for family reasons.

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In the end, they lost 32-23 at the Kingspan Stadium, though, and now their task is likely to be made tougher by the heavy rain that has been forecast for Toulouse tomorrow.

But no matter the elements, White wants his team to fight fire with fire.

“It was fantastic the whole week, nice and hot and sunny. I heard the rain is coming in now and it’s a bit cold, and the rain will probably stay throughout the weekend – which is not conducive to the kind of rugby we need to play, for both teams,” he said.

“But the reality is that it’s the same for both teams, and we will both have to adapt our games.

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“I prefer it to be dry in a game where both teams can express themselves. Generally in poor weather, it becomes a leveller, but if you’re playing against a big pack of forwards, it’s not really a leveller.

“They are an offloading team, but they’ve got incredible power as well. If you look at what Lyon did to us when they played with their power game, we struggled.

“The one thing that we’ve got to do against them is to almost play a bit like them. You’ve got to almost match them in terms of keeping the ball up and moving them around. You can’t get into a physical fight with them either…”

Teams For Sunday

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Canan Moodie 13 Cornal Hendricks 12 Harold Vorster 11 David Kriel 10 Chris Smith 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Cyle Brink 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortjé (captain) 4 Ruan Vermaak 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Dylan Smith 18 Francois Klopper 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 WJ Steenkamp 21 Embrose Papier 22 Morné Steyn 23 Stedman Gans.

Toulouse: 15 Thomas Ramos 14 Juan Cruz Mallia 13 Santiago Chocobares 12 Pita Ahki 11 Matthis Lebel 10 Romain Ntamack 9 Antoine Dupont 8 Alexandre Roumat 7 Francois Cros 6 Jack Willis 5 Emmanuel Meafou 4 Richie Arnold 3 Dorian Aldegheri 2 Julien Marchand 1 Cyril Baille.

Bench: 16 Peato Mauvaka 17 Rodrigue Neti 18 David Ainu’u 19 Thibaud Flament 20 Alban Placines 21 Trevor Brennan 22 Paul Graou 23 Dimitri Delibes.

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