Johan Goosen, Bismarck du Plessis in Bulls tour squad for United Rugby Championship
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CAPE TOWN – Jake White promised that the Bulls squad for the United Rugby Championship will look very different from the one that successfully defended the Currie Cup, and he delivered as a whole host of stalwarts are back in action.
Star flyhalf Johan Goosen is probably the most important name in the 37-man squad, as he has now recovered from Covid-19 and joined his teammates at Loftus Versfeld on Friday ahead of their departure to Europe on Saturday night.
The Pretoria side will face Irish giants Leinster in their first UFC game in Dublin next Saturday (6.15pm SA time kickoff), followed by Connacht (Friday October 1, 8.35pm), Cardiff (Saturday October 9, 8.35pm) and Edinburgh (Saturday October 16, 6.15pm).
Apart from Goosen, veteran hooker Bismarck du Plessis will make his Bulls debut on the trip, but perhaps more pleasing for White will be the fact that several players who were on the long-term injury list are fit again.
Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier, locks Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi and wing Kurt-Lee Arendse will add considerable depth to the group that beat the Sharks comprehensively in the Currie Cup final last weekend.
Another interesting development sees youngster Jan-Hendrik Wessels listed as a prop after starring as a hooker during the Currie Cup.
“We have a long and tough URC season ahead, and it will be important how we manage our squad going forward. Equally, it is important that we continue building on the winning culture we are creating at the Bulls, so it is imperative that we utilise our experienced workhorses and our exciting youngsters,” White said in a statement on Friday.
“We are looking forward to a highly competitive opening four fixtures against Leinster, Connacht, Cardiff and Edinburgh – all quality opposition. All participating teams will be looking to start the season on a high note, and it is no different for us.”
Bulls Tour Squad
Props: Lizo Gqoboka, Gerhard Steenekamp, Simphiwe Matanzima, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Mornay Smith, Jacques van Rooyen, Robert Hunt
Hookers: Bismarck du Plessis, Joe van Zyl, Schalk Erasmus, Sidney Tobias
Locks: Walt Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Ruan Nortjé, Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig
Loose forwards: Marcell Coetzee (captain), Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw, Jacques du Plessis, WJ Steenkamp, Muller Uys
Scrumhalves: Zak Burger, Embrose Papier, Keagan Johannes, Marco Jansen van Vuren
Flyhalves: Johan Goosen, Chris Smith
Centres: Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Stedman Gans
Wings: Madosh Tambwe, Stravino Jacobs, Kurt-Lee Arendse
Fullbacks: David Kriel, Ruan Combrinck