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Who should be the Bulls general against Stormers?

Morne Steyn of Bulls during the 2023 Currie Cup match between Bulls and Lions at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria

If Johan Goosen is not deemed fit for the Bulls’ United Rugby Championship quarter-final against the Stormers, Chris Smith or Morné Steyn (picture) may well start in the number 10 jersey. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published May 4, 2023


Cape Town - The Bulls have lost all five United Rugby Championship clashes against the Stormers, and need to come up with something different if they want to win Saturday’s quarter-final.

A packed Cape Town Stadium awaits once more for the Pretoria side to try and unlock the home team’s defences, and despite last week’s 31-7 Currie Cup defeat to Western Province at the same venue, coach Jake White would have learned valuable lessons.

The pitch was one of the big talking points after it was damaged by the recent Monster Jam truck event at the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadium, and it led to players slipping throughout the game.

In fact, Bulls wing Wandisile Simelane sustained a hamstring injury as well.

But one of the main factors that helped WP emerge victorious against a powerful Bulls side was their smart kicking game, with scrumhalf Godlen Masimla, flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, inside centre Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and fullback Clayton Blommetjies moving the visitors around with clever little dinks all over the worn-out pitch.

So, instead of using Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie as the Bulls only weapons on attack, could White devise a special kicking strategy that could help unsettle the renowned Stormers defence on Saturday?

The Bulls have gone to ground this week at Loftus Versfeld, and have not held any URC press conferences. That will continue until Friday, when White will announce his team for the trip to Cape Town – with only a Currie Cup presser scheduled for Thursday ahead of Saturday’s encounter with the Sharks in Pretoria.

Firstly, White will have to see if Johan Goosen is 100 percent fit after he was hampered by a hamstring niggle against WP last weekend.

The Springbok utility back didn’t come out for the second half, and afterwards, assistant coach Hugo van As said that while Goosen was being assessed by medical staff, he should be fit for the URC quarter-final.

But even if he is fine to play, should he continue in the No 10 jersey ahead of Chris Smith and Morné Steyn?

How about this for a radical plan: pick all three kickers – Smith at flyhalf, Steyn at inside centre and Goosen at fullback.

Steyn is not much of a threat as a ball-carrier, so he could easily swap positions with Goosen between No 15 and No 12 on attack and defence.

That would mean shifting the lethal Arendse to left wing in place of David Kriel, with Canan Moodie at right wing, while the hard-running Harold Vorster can operate at outside centre.

With in-form scrumhalf Embrose Papier able to vary his play expertly between putting up box-kicks and running at the Stormers defence around the fringes, such a backline combination would ensure that the Bulls can boot the ball into the corners and force the likes of Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla and Leolin Zas to turn back and retrieve possession.

Only Willemse is a proper kicker out of the Stormers back-three, and the Cape side have battled at times to get out of their half against European opposition who have used their boots to good effect.


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