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Jake White’s message to Bulls: You don’t have to bang your chest – just go out and do it

Published Jun 18, 2022


Cape Town - The saying ‘once bitten, twice shy’ won’t apply to the Bulls in tonight’s United Rugby Championship final against the Stormers.

In fact, they will hope it will be a case of third time lucky against John Dobson’s men at Cape Town Stadium (7.30pm kick-off) – and it won’t actually be about fortune going their way.

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The 30-26 defeat at Loftus Versfeld in January and the 19-17 loss in the Mother City in April hurt the Pretoria side more than Jake White would like to portray.

He is the veteran old-school coach and former headmaster who has won World Cups and been in charge of teams around the world, such as the Brumbies, Sharks, Montpellier and Toyota Verblitz, but he has lost twice to Dobson – the somewhat unheralded Cape folk hero who writes books and poems, and has Masters degrees and the like.

White mentioned yesterday after naming his match-23 – which sees Kurt-lee Arendse back at No 15 – how the romanticism of the Stormers’ dramatic run to the final was an endearing story that had been highlighted all week, but that the Bulls had also gone through significant challenges, such as losing four out of their first five games, and not having a single current Springbok in their set-up.

So, he feels that Marcell Coetzee’s charge to the final is also a fairytale, especially after they knocked over Leinster in Dublin last week.

But can they finally put one over the star-studded Stormers in their backyard? As Coetzee said this week, the job is not done yet, and White has been planning all week on rectifying the mistakes his team made earlier against the Capetonians.

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“We’ve had two losses against them, but had probably eight or nine wins against them in the last two years as well, which have been fantastic,” White said yesterday.

“The last game at the Stormers, we had the Bismarck (du Plessis) citing thing, which wasn’t ideal and went

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on literally right into the warm-up of the game before he was out.

“I had Ruan Nortje and Grobbies (Johan Grobbelaar) at the alignment camp, and then obviously natural, their heads were with the Springboks

and thinking how they can get into the Springbok team … Marcell Coetzee wasn’t selected and probably felt that he wanted to prove a point in that game – and Elrigh (Louw) as well was at the alignment camp.

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“So, there were a lot of things that weren’t … I don’t want to say excuses, but it’s just the way it is. They are young boys, and they have a dream to play for South Africa. That week was a bit of a disruption for us, and I’m not … We lost by two points, a conversion.

“I’m fully confident that this time, having learnt what we learnt the last time; they know now who is in the Bok side, so there’s no more trying to out-do anybody …

“All this media stuff is lovely for the outsiders and to build up the game, but it’s not for us. I go back to the 2007 World Cup – you don’t need to … The emotions come on its own, and you don’t have to bang your chest.

“The message is simple … Every time we’ve had to beat someone, we’ve done it,” White said. “We lost to the Sharks twice, and beat them in the quarter-final. We’ve lost to the Stormers twice …

“They’ve got five (2019) World Cup-winning Springboks, and we’ve got none. If people picked a Springbok side tomorrow, we wouldn’t have one guy in the team. My message is boys, it’s a great opportunity for you, so just go out and do it. Every time I’ve sort of challenged you, you’ve won.”


Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Damian Willemse 11 Seabelo Senatla 10 Manie Libbok 9 Herschel Jantjies 8 Evan Roos 7 Hacjivah Dayimani 6 Deon Fourie 5 Marvin Orie 4 Salmaan Moerat 3 Frans Malherbe 2 JJ Kotze 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).

Bench: 16 Andre-hugo Venter 17 Brok Harris 18 Neethling Fouche 19 Ernst van Rhyn 20 Junior Pokomela 21 Nama Xaba 22 Godlen Masimla 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.

Bulls: 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.

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.