Cape Town — Despite the Stade Gerland being covered in snow this week, Bulls assistant coach Chris Rossouw is confident that Friday’s Champions Cup clash against Lyon will go ahead.
Bulls president Willem Strauss shared a picture on Thursday of the match venue being totally engulfed by snow, and while Rossouw said that it was “extremely cold” a number of times, there was work being done to clear the artificial pitch for Friday night’s encounter (10pm SA time kick-off).
The Bulls are confident their game against Lyon will go ahead despite the Stade Gerland being covered in a blanket of snow.— IOL Sport (@IOLsport) January 19, 2023
Video credit: Marco van Staden (via Janko Swanepoel) on Instagram pic.twitter.com/senb1PrfDZ
Some of the Bulls players took to social media to showcase their experience in France this week.
“It’s the first time in France for us, and that will be an experience … it’s extremely cold at the moment with the snow, so it will be a great challenge for us. The guys are quite excited,” backline mentor Rossouw said from Lyon on Thursday.
“If I look out of the window, the snow has stopped and it’s overcast. It’s extremely cold, and that will have an influence. But our approach will remain the same, so it’s about how we manage those big moments within the game.
“It will be interesting as we are playing at 9pm (French time), so it’s a late game and it’s the first time for us to play that late under this extreme cold.
Lyon’s stadium this morning!!🙈 pic.twitter.com/ER58vPW2Ok— Willem Strauss (@willemStrauss9) January 19, 2023
“The last time it was that cold was at Exeter, but we played at one o’clock and it cleared up a little on that day.
“It’s an artificial pitch, so that’s a little bit different to a normal pitch, which gets quite easily frozen. I just saw follow-up pictures now where they are clearing the field with a tractor and some sort of a machine.
“I think it will continue, as I can’t see too many games being cancelled on this side of the world. I can’t see that field being frozen …
“We embrace this challenge, and while we haven’t played on an artificial pitch in snow, I imagine the ball will skid a bit more.”
🐺 𝗟![CDATA]>𝗮 𝗰![CDATA]>𝗼![CDATA]>𝗺![CDATA]>𝗽![CDATA]>𝗼 𝗱![CDATA]>𝘂 𝗟![CDATA]>𝗢![CDATA]>𝗨 pour affronter les Vodacom Bulls ce vendredi (21h) ⤵️#LOUBulls #LaForceduLOU#LaMeute pic.twitter.com/gi8LQ4pyec— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) January 19, 2023
In the absence of director of rugby Jake White, who is recuperating at home from an abdominal operation, Rossouw and the rest of the coaches made several changes to the side on Thursday from the one that beat Exeter Chiefs 39-28 at Loftus Versfeld last weekend — which he said was mainly due to rotation.
Nizaam Carr takes over the captaincy from the rested Ruan Nortje, who is on the bench, and will start at No 8 in place of Elrigh Louw, who is among the reserves as well.
Cyle Brink is back from a minor injury niggle at blindside flank, while Janko Swanepoel takes over from Nortje at No 5 lock.
There is also a new front row of Simphiwe Matanzima, Bismarck du Plessis and Francois Klopper, with Gerhard Steenkamp, Johan Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith set to make an impact in the second half.
In the backline, Embrose Papier takes over from Zak Burger at No 9, Johan Goosen regains the flyhalf berth from Chris Smith, while Cornal Hendricks slots in for Harold Vorster at inside centre.
“It’s just part of player welfare and rotation. A guy like Ruan Nortje has played basically every minute since the start of the season, so just making sure we maintain his welfare,” Rossouw said.
“And the same with Harold Vorster … since his injury, he has been playing every game up until the end.”
15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Canan Moodie 13 Wandisile Simelane 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 David Kriel 10 Johan Goosen 9 Embrose Papier 8 Nizaam Carr (captain) 7 Cyle Brink 6 Marco van Staden 5 Janko Swanepoel 4 Ruan Vermaak 3 Francois Klopper 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Gerhard Steenkamp 18 Mornay Smith 19 Ruan Nortje 20 Elrigh Louw 21 Zak Burger 22 Chris Smith 23 Lionel Mapoe.