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The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 12 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, against the Dragons in the city of Newport, South of Wales on Friday 06 January 2023.

BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White, recalled Wandisile Simelane into the matchday 23 whilst retain the services of the same squad that did duty in Durban, a week ago.

The front row remains the same, with the only switch taking place between prop Gerard Steenekamp and Simphiwe Matanzima swapping jerseys.

At the back, Zak Burger will don number 9 at scrum-half whilst David Kriel starts at left wing with Canan Moodie on the right, at 14. Harold Vorster will have Wandisile Simelane at 13, the duo pairing up as the centre pairing for the clash. Kurt-Lee Arendse returns to fullback.

The impact squad sees the addition of Bismarck Du Plessis, who comes into the matchday 23 with Jan-Hendrik Wessels missing out due to a niggle. Scrum-half, Embrose Papier returns to the matchday squad with Johan Goosen and Cornal Hendricks completing the herd for the outing.

Vodacom Bulls’ scrum coach, Werner Kruger, said the side wants to play and that desire will not go away, now they just need to manage their games correctly.

“We weren’t our best against the Sharks. We did not execute the plan that we wanted and we were not physical enough, which caused us to be under immense pressure. So, if we can get things right – controlling the controllable – play the conditions right, pitch up with good intent and physicality and then our game drivers take control of the kicking battle and take us into the right areas of the field, then the battle will take care of itself,”

Travelling to Europe during this time of the year makes for a tricky outing but Kruger feels that managing the game situations correctly, will set the Pretoria outfit up for a good result.

“I think the biggest thing in Europe right now is managing weather conditions, making sure that we win the kicking battle and we take control of the territory and that will obviously put us in the right positions on the pitch; then we must ensure we execute and manage our opportunities the best.”

“With weather like that, you probably will not take chances in your own 22 but when on the right side of the field, with ball in hand, you will want to make good of your chances and you can have a go,”

“They (Dragons) are a quality side, having watched them in their boxing day fixture. They are doing well at home too; they are a strong mauling side with lots of good carriers in the likes of Ross Moriarty in their pack, so we will have to do a number up front, we will have to get our set pieces right. Playing away from home, it is tough to get the maul going but we will have to front up and when we have the opportunities, we must make the most of them,”

Kruger went on to say: “Likewise when they have the ball in hand, we are going to have to man up and get in their faces and stop them,”

“I think this is the only way you really can get a result away from home, is when you get in your opponent’s face and you really get physical with them,”

Asked about the return of Simelane at outside centre, Kruger remarked: “Wandi is an exciting player, it will be good to see him at outside centre and we are all looking forward to seeing what he brings to the midfield on matchday,”

Kruger also touched on playing in hybrid pitches and what adjustments the side will need to make. “There are a couple of these (hybrid) pitches, they are incredible surfaces to play on, the look and feel is almost similar to the grass or the normal pitches that South African players are used to.”

The fixture at Rodney Parade stadium will kick-off at 21h45pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.

VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11. David Kriel, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Bismarck Du Plessis, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Johan Goosen, 23. Cornal Hendricks


FORWARDS (16): Simphiwe Matanzima, Johan Grobbelaar, Mornay Smith, Ruan Vermaak, Ruan Nortje(c), Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink, Elrigh Louw, Gerhard Steenekamp, Bismarck Du Plessis, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig, WJ Steenkamp, Tiaan Lange, Dylan Smith, and Nizaam Carr.

BACKS (12): Zak Burger, Embrose Papier, Johan Goosen, Chris Smith, Bernard van der Linde, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Cornal Hendricks, Wandisile Simelane, Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse

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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