The Vodacom Bulls have named a formidable ensemble to duel the Exeter Chiefs in the 3rd round of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, in Pretoria. The battle for a spot in the round of 16 in the North and South’s most revered club competition will be broadcast LIVE on SS Rugby and kick-off is scheduled for 19h30pm in the evening.
Skipper, Ruan Nortje will lead a strong forwards pack as Gerard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith line up in the front row with Ruan Vermaak alongside his captain in the second row. Nizaam Carr starts at openside flank with Marco van Staden at blindside, both anchored by Elrigh Louw at 8.
Zak Burger and Chris Smith will lace up and control the game as half-backs whilst the David Kriel (left) and Canan Moodie (right) start at wing with Harold Vorster (inside) and Wandisile Simelane (outside) linking up as the centre pairing with Kurt-Lee Arendse at full-back.
Nortje’s herd boasts an experienced and influential impact squad with the likes of Bismarck Du Plessis, Dylan Smith, Johan Goosen and Lionel Mapoe; all lining up alongside bright young stars in Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, WJ Steenkamp and Embrose Papier.
The Vodacom Bulls will line up during the outing with a buzz of optimism from the Loftus faithful, as a few permutations over this round, may seal the side’s place in the round of 16 of rugby’s premier club competition. A victory over the visitors and a few results in other matches going in favour of the men in blue will boost their pursuits. Forwards coach, Russell Winter, insists that the match remains the focus and not the permutations as the team prepares for a tough clash, willing to fight fire with fire.
“We have got to front up on Saturday, sticking to our systems, which will help us do well. We have to try hard and stay within what we have been coached and try break them down in the way that they want to play, that is how we are going to get the result,”
“We are playing one of the top clubs in a top premium franchise competition, so the intensity will be higher and we are going to have to match it and improve our intensity if we want to make that we get the win. We have to be up for it physically, mentally and on our game, they might find some cracks; but if we do what we train, then we will be okay,”
“We know they (Exeter) are a very good side, we know that they are well coached and we know that in the game that we played against them (in Exeter on December 17) they really put in a big scrum and mauling performance. We know their pack of forwards is a really good set of forwards, they really play and play expansive rugby as well if they want to,”
“We have to prepare for all these things and come Saturday, we are going to put our best foot forward and hopefully we have prepared well enough to win the game” Winter concluded.
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. Nizaam Carr, 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. Dylan Smith, 17. Bismarck Du Plessis, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. WJ Steenkamp, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Johan Goosen, 23. Lionel Mapoe
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 Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager
VODACOM BULLS HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP FIXTURES:
Saturday, 10 December 2022: Vodacom Bulls 42-36 Lyon
Saturday, 17 December 2022: Exeter Chiefs 44-14 Vodacom Bulls
Saturday, 14 January 2023: Vodacom Bulls vs Exeter Chiefs
Friday, 20 January 2023: Lyon vs Vodacom Bulls