The Vodacom Bulls have added three new faces to the match-day 23 from a week ago as the Pretoria outfit prepares for a stern New Year’s Eve test in the form of the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
Simphiwe ‘power-pack’ Matanzima will start at loose-head prop supported by Johan Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith in the front row whilst the second and back row remains the same as the one that did duty the week before. At the back, Bernard van der Linde slots in at scrum-half with Embrose Papier moving to the impact squad, as Chris Smith starts at fly-half. Springbok duo, Johan Goosen  and Kurt-Lee Arendse  will run out at left wing and full-back respectively.
Springbok speedster, Canan Moodie will start at right wing with Harold Vorster and Cornal Hendricks pairing up at inside and outside centre respectively. Hooker, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and utility back, David Kriel complete the list of new faces in the match-day 23.
The 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship round 11 clash against the Durban team is pencilled for 16h45pm kick off, at the Kings Park Stadium, and will be broadcast live on SuperSport Rugby.
BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White said the fixture is not a do-or-die but an opportunity to register another good performance in the competition.
“Looking at their team, it is easy to see why they are the strongest provincial team in the competition,”
“We are going to play against nine Springboks, we did it in Cape Town last season again the SA’A side when nobody gave us a chance. Again, the uniqueness of this competition is that anybody can beat anybody, whether you are 11th on the log playing the top-ranked side, you can still get the result,”
“We are going there to give it our full go. We have to play the best rugby to give us the best possible opportunity to get into the playoffs and everybody knows that if you play good rugby in the final few weeks of the competition, you have a good chance at winning the tournament,”
On Johan Goosen at full-back, White said: “Last time we played them we actually picked Smith and Goosen at 10 and 15 and the combination worked, we played reasonably well. Giving us two kickers and two passes, two kicking options which help us a lot. There is also a chance of rain tomorrow and that will suit us a bit with the two at fly half and full back.”
“Our selection is not a reaction to them but it is because it is a tactic that worked for us when we played them at home and we would like to see it work again from a combination of two guys who understand each other,”
“Sometimes you have to package things differently in order to get the best out of your players.”
On Bernard van der Linde at 9, the Vodacom Bulls mentor said: “It will be an interesting game because of the chance of rain and his ability to kick. He played well for us against Lyon and it will be good to see him in the field again for us.”
Asked about starting Simphiwe Matanzima starting, White responded: “A guy like Simphiwe, I felt after Saturday, I have not given him enough game time. I could see the frustration in his eyes that he did not have enough time to stamp his authority. He scrummed really well and I was probably conservative in giving the front row more time since they played so well. So, I felt I needed to give Simphiwe more time this week,”
“This will be a good test for him, scrumming with Grobbies and Mornay and this will be a good test for him to see how he plays as a starter,”
“He is a loosehead prop chomping at the bid to start and he is ready to give us a good game. Sometimes when you create competition at certain positions, you get different results out of each person.”
Asked about the possible outlook of the playoffs, White responded: “We beat the Sharks at Loftus with a bonus point and if they win their match over the Stormers and we win tomorrow in Durban, we then jump up as favourites to win the conference, so there is a lot of permutations still ahead between now and the end of the competition,”
“We are still in December, in a competition that runs until May and there is a lot of rugby to be played.”
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV:
1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD:
16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Lionel Mapoe, 23. David Kriel
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