Having balance on attack very important for Bulls, says hubby Willie le Roux

‘There are a lot of young guys who want to learn, and I also want to learn from the younger guys, how they see and do things,’ says Bulls fullback Willie le Roux. Photo: BackpagePix

‘There are a lot of young guys who want to learn, and I also want to learn from the younger guys, how they see and do things,’ says Bulls fullback Willie le Roux. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 22, 2024


For someone who used to be called “Quade Cooper” in his early Boland days, it was interesting to hear Willie le Roux say it’s “not always just having an attacking mindset”.

That shows the growth that the Springbok fullback has achieved in recent years, and he hopes to bring that variety to the Bulls over the next few seasons.

Despite being a two-time World Cup winner, Le Roux said this week – ahead of tomorrow’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Dragons in Newport, Wales (9.35pm kick-off, SA time) – that he still enjoys learning from the younger players in the squad.

Le Roux returned to South Africa after the World Cup last year following several years at Wasps in England and Toyota Verblitz in Japan, and having played a few games for the Pretoria side, he had an opportunity to get married to his long-time partner, Holly, near Franschhoek last month and enjoyed his honeymoon.

But he attended the Springbok alignment camp in Cape Town, and is keen to help the Bulls continue on their quest to win both the URC and Champions Cup, starting with the Dragons at Rodney Parade tomorrow.

“It’s very nice to run out here on a Saturday and you see Loftus is sold out. It just brings lekker memories back from rugby in previous years. We have amazing support at the Bulls and I am enjoying my rugby at the moment, and I feel I am in a good place on the rugby field,” the 93-Test Bok said this week.

“And to train with all the young guys, and a guy like Devon (Williams), who is pushing you and is also playing very good rugby, so it is good for the older guys that the younger guys push you a bit.

“You get to a certain stage in your career and life, age-wise, you are not as – I wouldn’t say agile – but not as you were when you just started ... it’s a bit different.

“You learn a lot of things along the way, and it’s just inside of me to give some things that I have inside info in, or how I see things in a game for guys who want to know or ask me about it – I’m always open to talking about it, and I am enjoying that.

“There are a lot of young guys who want to learn, and I also want to learn from the younger guys, how they see and do things. It goes both ways, as I am learning from them as well.”

The second-placed Bulls have flourished on attack this season, scoring the most points (389) and most tries (51) in the URC, but it could be a very different type of game against the Dragons tomorrow.

There is 60% rain forecast for Newport, with 30km/h winds and a maximum temperature of 10ºC, so it is likely to be slippery and breezy, which will affect the Bulls’ approach.

And while the Dragons are languishing in second-last place on the log, the visitors won’t be underestimating them, despite their excellent 40-22 win over the Stormers early this month, and ahead of next week’s big clash against Leinster in Dublin, which is followed by the Champions Cup play-off against Lyon in Pretoria on April 6.

“The guys (in the backline) have been playing well together. We’ve had a few games together, and started to get to know each other in training,” Le Roux said.

“That helps, but just building that relationship in games is good. Me, Kurt-Lee (Arendse) and (Canan) Moodie have known each other a bit longer than the other guys like Stedman (Gans) and (David) Kriel.

“But I’ve played a lot with Goose (Johan Goosen) before at the Cheetahs, and Embrose (Papier) is playing unbelievable rugby.

“So, it’s a good mixture of running and kicking rugby. It’s just to get to the right areas of the field and then attack – not always just having an attacking mindset, but having the balance. And that’s very important.

“There aren’t any easy games. If you play away from home, it is very difficult in this competition – the weather makes it difficult: it’s a wet ball, the wind blows very strongly on that field (Rodney Parade), so it’s not about playing nice rugby there.

“So, that is why I said our only focus is this weekend, and to put in a good performance that side so that we can be proud about each other afterwards.”

Meanwhile, Bulls coach Jake White confirmed that while flank Elrigh Louw (shoulder) is part of the tour squad, No 8 Cameron Hanekom has remained behind in Pretoria to nurse his hamstring injury, and hopes to be fit to face Lyon.