Jake White not shy about celebrating Bulls’ Super Rugby Unlocked title
CAPE TOWN - Some matches may have been affected and even cancelled by Covid-19, but Bulls director of rugby Jake White has called on his players to also enjoy the fact that they will be crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champions tomorrow.
Only a miracle can stop Duane Vermeulen from lifting the brandnew trophy at Loftus – the Pumas will have to win by 43 points and deny the Bulls a bonus point in order for the Stormers to be declared the winners.
Some critics may argue that the Bulls’ achievement has been sullied by the fact that three matches – Lions versus Cheetahs, Lions versus Pumas and Sharks versus Stormers – were called off due to positive Covid-19 tests, while some teams have also had to leave out key players for the same reason.
The Bulls, though, have been largely unaffected, with only Morne Steyn not featuring this week after being exposed to someone with Covid-19.
“It is always great to win! It’s like a Six Nations and it is a short tournament, and we have beaten the two teams closest to us by far.
“So, it’s not about feeling sorry or shy – it’s lekker to win,” White said yesterday after naming a team with four changes to the starting line-up for the Pumas clash.
“We all knew it’s a short tournament, and you had to hit the ground running and win some games.
“We have taken the first step, and have to build on it, as it’s not just the Currie Cup coming up, but also PRO Rugby next year.
“Apparently, there is going to be a trophy presentation (after the match). The Bulls will now win four Super Rugby titles, and no other South African team has won one.
“It was the same rules and games for everybody, and we got bonus points against the next two strongest teams, the Stormers and Sharks.
“We need to keep growing as a group and enjoy the fact that we are winning.
“The players must appreciate that, and we’ve got to keep working hard.”
With Steyn out of the mix, former Maties and Pumas pivot Chris Smith will wear the No 10 jersey, while Arno Botha is back at blindside flank for the injured Elrigh Louw.
Jason Jenkins has returned to his Japanese club Toyota Verblitz, which sees Ruan Nortje partnering Walt Steenkamp in the second row.
The hooker, favoured injured.
“Corniel played really well off the bench the other day, and has taken his chance,” White said.
“He is probably a little more experienced for this game, in terms of the lineout, so we thought we’d give him a start and see if he can add some value as a senior guy, as he is a bit older than the other hookers.”
15 David Kriel 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Chris Smith 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortje 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Corniel Els 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Bench: 16 Joe van Zyl 17 Gerhard Steenekamp 18 Marcel van der Merwe 19 Sintu Manjezi 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Embrose Papier 22 Clinton Swart 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren
15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willem Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Morgan Naude.
Bench: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Ig Prinsloo, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Ali Mgijima, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Liam Hendricks.