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Jake White calls on Duane Vermeulen to provide Bulls with ‘extra info’ on Stormers maul ahead of URC final

Duane Vermeulen keeps a watchful eye on the Bulls pack during the captain's run at Cape Town Stadium on Friday. Photo: Willem Strauss/Bulls

Duane Vermeulen keeps a watchful eye on the Bulls pack during the captain's run at Cape Town Stadium on Friday. Photo: Willem Strauss/Bulls

Published Jun 17, 2022

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Cape Town — “Calling Agent Duane Vermeulen, come in, come in…” That may as well have been the rallying cry from Jake White on Friday after the Bulls coach revealed a remarkable twist in the build-up to Saturday’s United Rugby Championship final against the Stormers.

White is never far from a bit of drama and intrigue, and it was no different on Friday. It first started with the team announcement for the Cape Town Stadium decider, where the official match-23 that was sent to journalists and posted on the Bulls’ social media showed that Kurt-Lee Arendse was on the bench.

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Canan Moodie was starting at fullback, with David Kriel at right wing. When I asked White immediately at the start of the press conference why he would leave out one of his main attacking weapons, the 58-year-old mentor expressed surprise and stated that Arendse would wear the No 15 jersey, with Moodie at No 14 and Kriel on the bench.

Okay, perhaps an honest mistake on the Bulls’ part, but nevertheless, one wondered if there weren’t a few mind games going on.

Towards the end of the press conference, White was asked about the Bulls’ maul defence and how they had battled to contain the Sharks’ drive in the quarter-final, while Ulster had gained the upper-hand on the Stormers’ maul in last week’s semi-final.

White then revealed a bombshell… Ulster and Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was going to show the Bulls how his team managed to neutralise the Stormers’ maul — Duane Vermeulen, a former Stormers hero!

“Once I am finished here, I will be seeing Duane Vermeulen. He is going to eat with me, and he will come to the captain’s run with me as well this afternoon. I am going to talk to him a bit about what happened in the semi-final,” the Bulls director of rugby said.

“I am going to show him our lineouts — I have everything here on the screen, and I am going to show him and ask what would the plan be here and there? What would you guys (Ulster) have done? Why did you do it like that?

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“So, I have that base covered. He is coming this afternoon… I am waiting for him — making he is sitting here already (at the team hotel). We are going to eat together, and then he is going to drive with us to the practice.

“Having Duane coming down for lunch today, and then coming with us to captain’s practice and talking to us about what they (Ulster) felt last week… It’s an incredible extra bit of info that you can get, and I am looking forward to that.”

Such a move cannot sit well with the Stormers, where Vermeulen — who came out of knee surgery earlier this week in Cape Town — became a Springbok in 2012. Will it motivate John Dobson’s team to raise their game even further? Or is it a masterstroke from White on the eve of the final?

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We’ll find out on Saturday at 7.30pm…

Bulls Team

15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Canan Moodie 13 Cornal Hendricks 12 Harold Vorster 11 Madosh Tambwe 10 Chris Smith 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Arno Botha 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain) 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

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Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Robert Hunt 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 WJ Steenkamp 21 Embrose Papier 22 Morné Steyn 23 David Kriel.

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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