The Vodacom Bulls have made minimal changes to the side that will take on Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday 17 December 2022, for round two of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup. BBCo Director of Rugby, Jake White maintained consistency to personnel as he only makes four changes to the matchday 23 that triumphed over Lyon a week ago.
Both Janko Swanepoel and Chris Barend Smit come into the starting xv from the bench, with Swanepoel slotting in at 5 as Reinhardt Ludwig shifts to 4 in place of Jacques du Plessis. Smit comes in at 12 in place of injured Marco Jansen van Vuuren. Muller Uys and Wj Steenkamp swap jerseys whilst Joe van Zyl, Cameron Hanekom and Carlton Bannies join this week’s impact squad.
Speaking on the squad selection, White said: “I needed them to also play away because it would have been unfair to have a different squad travel to play just the one game. It is only fair for me to give them the opportunity to have a run away from home, an opportunity to back up the performance from the previous week,”
“We have some young guys here, the likes of Cameron Hanekom and Carlton Bannies who come from the under-20s, will be playing for the first-time tomorrow and it’s obviously fantastic for our youngsters to measure themselves against such an experienced team,”
“It is a completely different test for these youngsters, a completely different test for us as a group. Sometimes when you get opportunities you don’t always get them when you want them and you don’t always get them in the environment you want them but that is what makes rugby such a fantastic game.”
Asked about the challenges of travelling, the Vodacom Bulls mentor replied: “There are positives to having our squad in one place 24/7 because we can assemble quicker and chat about the game, versus being at home. So, staying together in a hotel has its advantages that we can make good use of.”
Speaking about what his herd expects from Exeter and the reality of a young side, White commented: “I don’t think anyone gave us a chance last week and we got five points against Lyon at home and now we are going to face a star-studded team in Exeter. Having to play in front of sold-out crowds, so the challenge is completely different but having said that, I am fully confident that these guys understand it and they will give it their best.”
White went on to say, “Exeter are a great side, they won this tournament two years ago, in fact, I think they won the double. They have a great squad, great coaches and a great environment here. That means it is going to be tough for us, but that is all part of growing as a group,”
“If I look at their team, they have internationals almost across the field. They are extremely efficient and they can hold onto the ball for 20 phases at times and they will put your defence under huge amounts of pressure. So, I think we got to either hold onto the ball as long as we can and not give it to them, which comes with the risk because if you don’t hold onto the ball with accuracy you can give them the ball and maybe concede penalties which makes it easy for them to enter into your 22,”
“They are a very dangerous team in the 22m, the most efficient in the whole competition so it’s going to be a challenge for us but I have full faith in the guys, playing for the Vodacom Bulls who are a proud rugby club and there are expectations from our supporters and that is why we have got to do our best. I have no doubt they will give more than 100% and hopefully that will be good enough to get the result” White concluded.
The Pool A clash is scheduled to kick-off at 13h00 local time (15h00 South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV:
1. Dylan Smith, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Jacques van Rooyen, 4. Reinhardt Ludwig, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Nizaam Carr, 7. Muller Uys, 8. Wj Steenkamp, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Morne Steyn (c), 11. Stravino Jacobs, 12. Chris Barend Smit, 13. Stedman Gans, 14. Sibongile Novuka, 15. Wandisile Simelane
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD:
16. Lizo Gqoboka, 17. Joe van Zyl, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Cameron Hanekom, 20. Phumzile Maqondwana, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Carlton Bannies, 23. Juan Mostert
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
VODACOM BULLS HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP FIXTURES:
Saturday, 10 December 2022: Vodacom Bulls 42-36 Lyon
Saturday, 17 December 2022: Exeter Chiefs vs Vodacom Bulls
Saturday, 14 January 2023: Vodacom Bulls vs Exeter Chiefs
Friday, 20 January 2023: Lyon vs Vodacom Bulls