In their first start together against the Highlanders last weekend, Ruan Nortje pictured) and Ian Groenewald showed a glimmer that they could spark the next Bulls second-row dynasty. Photo: BackpagePix
In their first start together against the Highlanders last weekend, Ruan Nortje pictured) and Ian Groenewald showed a glimmer that they could spark the next Bulls second-row dynasty. Photo: BackpagePix

Bulls will hope Nortje can set the tone in Brisbane

By Sibusiso mjikeliso Time of article published Mar 13, 2020

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The Bulls have a history of producing world-class locks, going back to when Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and forward utility Danie Rossouw propelled them to three Super Rugby titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

In their first start together against the Highlanders last weekend, Ruan Nortje and Ian Groenewald showed a glimmer that they could spark the next Bulls second-row dynasty.

The Bulls lost Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins and Eli Snyman last season, who, if they had stuck together, would have created something of a renaissance in Pretoria.

As a result, they scampered to bring Juandre Kruger back to Loftus and scooped up former Lions lock Andries Ferreira, who was released by the Hurricanes without playing a game out of fears about his past injuries.

Bulls coach Pote Human tried to reheat the French fries with the combination of Ferriera and Kruger, but they just didn’t taste the same.

Up stepped Ruan Nortje (21), who has featured sporadically off the bench this season before his monstrous start in the Bulls’ 38-13 victory over the Highlanders last week.

Ian Groenewald (27), who is perhaps a little long in the tooth to be considered a youngster, came into the team with the same vigour as his younger second-row partner.

The Bulls are adept at turning promising young locks into smooth lineout operators and their factory never closes. Matfield passed the baton to Mthunzi Mabeta for a brief period before Flip van der Merwe took over and then Snyman emerged as the great new hope.

Nortje has followed that on and received plaudits from his coach after being tasked with calling the lineouts for the first time last weekend.

Granted, the Highlanders weren’t going to pose as tough a set-piece challenge, as, say, the Crusaders or the Chiefs. But it was important for Nortje to set a marker that he will hope to carry into the clash against the Reds in Brisbane tomorrow.

The Bulls are expected to have a slight edge in the scrums, but Lizo Gqoboka will have his work cut out against dynamic tighthead Taniela Tupou, who has had plenty looseheads for lunch already this season.

@Sbu_Mjikeliso

The Star

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