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The Vodacom Bulls have made just one change to its matchday 23 that will take on Stade Toulouse in round 16 of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup. Dylan Smith comes in place of Simphiwe Matanzima – who has travelled home for family reasons – in an otherwise unchanged side from the one that did duty against Ulster a week ago.

The South African outfit will take on the French side at Le Stadium (south of the French countryside) on Sunday, 02 April 2023, with kick-off pencilled in for 16h00pm.

Jake White’s herd are looking to advance into the quarterfinals of the competition, which would be a remarkable feat on their debut season in Europe’s elite club competition.

On the selection of matchday 23, White said: “Our squad is still relatively young, relatively inexperienced in terms of the competitions we are playing in but that is the best we have at this stage, but at least everyone is fit and healthy, available for the game,”

“We have had a good training week. This is one of those games where it is a knockout and you are either in or out. We have had the history of playing really well in knock-out games, look at our last couple of years and all the knockout games we have played we have won most of them.”

On the opponents: “It is an incredible team. I read somewhere where the coach of Munster was saying how powerful Toulouse is. A side laden with international players and they play a style that is well-known in the world of rugby. They are very big on offloading, not holding the ball up and creating rucks, a style that their coaches have been coaching here for a long time now. This is what makes them such a strong team compared to others in the world,”

Asked about whether the weather conditions could serve as the leveller in the encounter, White said: “It is quite a difficult thing to pre-call because they are an offloading team but they have a great deal of power as well. Looking at what Lyon did when they played against us with their power game, we struggled. The one sort of thing is to play like them and you got to almost match them in terms of keeping the ball up and keep moving them around because you cannot get into a physical fight with them,”

“Generally, poor weather becomes a leveller but when playing against a really good pack of forwards then it’s not really a leveller. They have a really good pack of forwards, with one of the best players they have had in the Six Nations on the bench, a guy who can play flak/lock. Not many teams can put that calibre of player on the bench,”

“I would prefer it to be dry, where both teams can express themselves.”

VODACOM BULLS vs ULSTER STARTING XV: 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 Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11. David Kriel, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Bismarck du Plessis, 17. Dylan Smith, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. WJ Steenkamp, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Morne Steyn, 23. Stedman Gans

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr. Gerhard Louwrence – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Meyer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Zama Dyidi – Logistics Manager

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