Bulls rock Wilco Louw expects ‘typical French game’ from Lyon

Wilco Louw (centre), seen here lifting Bulls teammate Janko Swanepoel, still dreams of earning a Springbok recall. Photo: BackpagePix

Wilco Louw (centre), seen here lifting Bulls teammate Janko Swanepoel, still dreams of earning a Springbok recall. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 4, 2024


Wilco Louw packs a mean punch – and that’s just in the scrums.

You probably couldn’t find a nicer tighthead prop on and off the field. Okay, Frans Malherbe is of a similar ilk.

But while these scrum gurus don’t talk much, they roar in the scrums.

The 29-year-old Louw has been a rock for the Bulls this season after spending a few years at Harlequins in England.

Louw, who is 126kg of prime Ceres beef, began his senior career at Loftus Versfeld before returning to his native Western Cape at the Stormers.

That is where he became a Springbok, but his time overseas – which included a short stint at Toulon in France as cover during the 2019 World Cup – has moulded Louw into virtually a complete No 3.

Now he does so much more than just scrum as he carries the ball strongly and makes a number of big tackles.

But it is his prowess in the scrums that has brought much stability to the Bulls pack, and will form the cornerstone of their effort to knock over Lyon in Saturday’s Champions Cup last-16 play-off at Loftus (1.30pm kick-off).

Last week’s 47-14 URC defeat to Leinster in Dublin was a tough night at the office, but the Bulls will hope to hit back straight away this weekend.

“They are a French team, so they are good in the set pieces and have a very good scrum and maul, and they have backs who can run with the ball,” Louw said this week.

“They have a few monster centres ... They will want to play a typical French game – to scrum and maul well – so we will have to be up for it in the scrums and mauls.

“You must give credit where it’s due, and Leinster are a good team. We played well in the first half – I thought our scrums and mauls were good – but we just took the foot off the petrol a bit in the second half, for some or other reasons.

“But we will definitely have to be on it for 80 minutes this weekend.

“Leinster put us under a lot of pressure at the breakdowns, so if we can just keep the ball at the breakdowns and focus, as always, on our scrums and mauls, and give the ball to the backs, when it’s on, I believe it will be a good weekend for us.

“The teams are so good in adapting, so if they come up with a few strange things, we must be able to adapt and adjust as a prop and a pack.

“You can’t expect to dominate for the entire game, and must make plans for the full 80 minutes.”

Louw’s performances will hopefully result in a Springbok recall this year, where he will hope to add to his 14 Test caps.

“It’s every rugby player’s goal to play for their country, and the most important thing is to play well for your union and be consistent every weekend – and if the time is right, then it will happen,” he said.

“But for now I want to play well for the Bulls, but it will always be a big dream to play for the Boks.”

Meanwhile, coach Jake White has confirmed that flank Marco van Staden won’t feature against Lyon due to the knee injury he sustained in Dublin.

He will hope that young No 8 Cameron Hanekom recovers in time from his hamstring injury that saw him miss the two-match URC tour, but Mpilo Gumede’s powerful performances and Nizaam Carr’s experience will provide enough loose-forward cover.