WATCH: Does ex-Bulls forward Jannes Kirsten have a mole for Exeter Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld?

Jannes Kirsten during his time with the Bulls

FILE - Jannes Kirsten during his time with the Bulls. Photo: Backpagepix

Published Jan 12, 2023

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Cape Town — He came through the ranks at the Bulls in Pretoria, so does Exeter Chiefs forward Jannes Kirsten still have a mole inside Loftus Versfeld?

It seems that way, considering how the 29-year-old spoke about what he expects from his former team in Saturday’s Champions Cup clash (7.30pm kick-off).

Kirsten left the Bulls in 2019 for Exeter and has enjoyed a remarkable time in England, becoming a champion in Europe and the Premiership.

There was a report from the Rugby Paper in the UK this week linking him with a return to the Bulls next season once his Chiefs contract ends in June, but for now, he is acting as a tour guide for the English club and plotting the downfall of the Pretoria side.

“I had never thought I would come for a tour over here … obviously when I left, the South African teams weren’t involved in the northern hemisphere at all. It’s nice and something different, and nice being here in the summer weather. It’s a bit hot, I must say, and the altitude is quite a challenge,” Kirsten said in a video posted on the Exeter social media accounts.

“But what’s life without a challenge? So, looking forward to the weekend, and it’s going to be funny to play on Loftus as the opposing team … But I am looking forward to it.

“I’ve lived here all my life. I lived nearby, I went to school here, so it’s nice to show the lads all the nice bits and pieces over here.

“So far, they’ve enjoyed it quite a bit – they didn’t listen to me when I said the sun is hot, so we’ve got a few lobsters walking around today. But hopefully they will stay out of the sun now.”

Equally comfortable at No 4 lock and blindside flank, Kirsten knows that Ruan Nortje’s side will be a totally different outfit to the ‘B team’ that lost 44-14 at Exeter in December, as they will field their first-choice line-up.

“I expect a different team to what we faced at home. They play similarly to us: high ball-in-play time. They know we are not used to the heat, coming from winter, and the altitude …” he said.

“They will make us run around, keep the ball in play, and I also think the kicking game is going to be very important, as they won’t kick out. I think we won’t see a lot of line-outs, and it’s all going to come down to that kicking battle, and the set-piece battle.”

That’s some intricate detail from an opposition player, so does Kirsten have an informant at Loftus Versfeld? Bulls forwards coach Russell Winter giggled when asked about that on Thursday …

“I don’t know if he has any inside info. We’ve tried to guess plans in the past, and it turned out to be completely the opposite. I don’t know what they expect.

“But I can tell you that we have prepared really well this week, and have worked hard. The DNA of the way we play won’t change much, and we want to put on a good performance at home.

“I find it quite amusing that they think they know that we are going to do something, but it might just bite you ...

“I’m not too sure (about that), but we know they are a very good side that are well-coached. In the game we played against them in England, they put in a really good scrum and mauling performance, and we know they have a really good pack of forwards.

“We know they can run the ball and play expansive rugby if they want to. So, we have to prepare for all these things, and come Saturday, we will put our best foot forward.”

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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