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The Vodacom Bulls have been given a boost by the return of its Springbok players, as Marco Van Staden, Johan Goosen, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks and Kurt-Lee Arendse return to the matchday 23 for the match against Welsh rugby side, Cardiff. Returning will also be, Johan Grobbelaar who makes his much awaited return to play having recovered from injury.

The round 9 clash of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship is set for Saturday 03 December 2022, with kick-off scheduled for 20:00pm CAT.

“It is nice to know that we have backup from the guys who have done national duty, guys who were part of that side that did so well at Twickenham. So, having our returning Boks has been great for us because they have brought about a positive vibe into the training environment and I find that important because it helps elevate our training tempo and helps improve everyone on the park,” commented BBCo Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Marco ‘Eskom’ van Staden returns to blind-side flanker whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fly-half as Canan Moodie pairs up with David Kriel in the left and right-wing combination. Cornal Hendricks returns to a role he has thrived under at centre with homegrown sensation, Kurt-Lee Arendse returning at full-back for the Bulls herd. In other rotations; Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith and Lionel Mapoe join the impact squad as Johan Grobbelaar returns to the starting xv, at hooker.

The last time the two sides met, the Pretoria side dotted down three tries as they racked up a convincing 29-19 victory but White is not counting on history to repeat itself, as he anticipates hosting a well-prepared and confident Cardiff side at the back of their trip to Durban.

“We need to play well against Cardiff, a side that will be beaming with confidence having beaten both the Stormers and Sharks, two sides who have finished above them in the season gone, so they will be on a high knowing they have beaten two strong South African sides already” he commented.

Asked on whether the fixture against Cardiff will be the game that gives direction on selection going forward, the Vodacom Bulls mentor commented: “Not really, we will be making changes along the way because we have back-to-back match weeks over the next nine consecutive weeks. If we want to be our best, we have to make changes along the way to stay ontop of our game.”

Speaking on Johan Grobbelaar’s return to play, White said: “I probably could have played Grobbies last week because he was already out on the park after 5-6 weeks putting his hand up for selection and that sums up him as a character, a resilient player. In the end, I thought to rather not take a chance on one game but now he is back and having him and his rugby IQ will be great for the squad,”

Jake White lauded the return of Moodie, highlighting his recent time with the Springboks has added an extra bounce to the youngster’s step, which is overall great for the entire team. “Even though Canan was out for a while, he returns having experienced a full house at Twickenham and experienced a victory over there (in England) which a lot of teams have not experienced. So he returns a young player with a boost and spring in his step and it is nice to have that calibre of players in our group,”

“We are hoping to get a Springbok player in every position, we may not be there yet but hopefully this group will teach each other to be better and get to that point” White concluded.

The visitors’ (Cardiff) openside flanker, Thomas Young – who played an instrumental role at Kings Park – said it would be important to keep their hosts at bay throughout the 80 minutes of play.

“It’s going to be another physical challenge for us. We’re expecting the weather to be dry, it’s at altitude so that’s something different we have to adjust to – that’s the challenge we have to step up to. Keeping them out at the end is something the boys are really proud of doing. All week we’ve spoken about backing it up and being consistent in everything we do.”

1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Bruger, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Canan Moodie, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. David Kriel, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse

16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Lionel Mapoe

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist

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