Cookie Consent by Skip to main content

The Vodacom Bulls have been boosted by the return of Kurt-Lee Arendse for their Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final showdown with the Glasgow Warriors at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White named Arendse in his starting XV, with the Springbok winger returning after surgery for a fractured cheekbone which he sustained in the quarter-final against Benetton.

The return of Arendse is a big boost for the team after the loss of fullback Willie le Roux, who left the field in the semi-final against Leinster following a head and neck injury and who according to medical protocols cannot be available for this Grand Final. Devon Williams will run out at fullback in the only other change to the starting XV.

“The concussion protocols mean that Willie was unavailable. He failed his HIA so there is an obligatory time he needs to be off. He wanted to play and thinks he’s fine, which is a great sign of where we are as a group because everybody wants to be a part of this Grand Final. Kurt-Lee’s doctor and specialist were impressed with the surgery and really happy with how he has recovered. It says a lot about Kurt-Lee’s commitment to the team and to have him back is fantastic, especially having lost somebody like Willie,” said White.

It is a small yet significant tweak to a team that is poised to compete for one of its biggest titles in the union’s illustrious history, having qualified for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship play-offs for the third successive season and playing in their second Grand Final.

“The most important message from me to the players is let’s just do what we did last week against Leinster. For me that was outstanding. There is no secret remedy. It’s a Grand Final and you’ve just got to do the things you’ve been doing well. It’s about what we can control and we need to focus on ourselves and not spend too much time worrying about what the Glasgow Warriors will do. That will be enough for me because everyone will then understand that we’ve given it our best,” said White.

The Vodacom Bulls coach said he was confident that his team has learnt the lessons of having played in the first Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final and lost, reaching the quarter-finals last season, and having produced some big wins on their way to the Grand Final this season.

“We’ve learnt our lessons in this competition. It’s about putting those lessons together now. We’ve grown as a team. A lot of our younger players in that first Grand Final are now a little bit older, a little bit wiser, a little bit tougher, and a little bit more streetwise. It’s been a growth process for us and we’ve definitely improved as a team.”

Loftus Versfeld is a sellout for one of the most anticipated matches in Vodacom Bulls history as Pretoria hosts its first ever Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final, and White said it will be a special experience for his players to run out in front of the Loftus faithful.

“Unless you’ve been to Loftus Versfeld when it’s sold out, you have no idea what that’s like. There will be 53 000 fanatical Vodacom Bulls fans here. I’ve been here with Springbok games where you have a mix of traveling supporters, but it’s completely different when you’ve got 53 000 Vodacom Bulls supporters. It’s an incredible experience as a player to run out in front of that. Those fans will be here from 2pm watching the Springboks versus Wales on the big screen. If the Springboks beat Wales and we kick off at 6pm, this place is going to be going crazy.”

But White dispelled any talk of the Vodacom Bulls being favourites.

“Favourites count for nothing. The one thing about the Vodacom United Rugby Championship which has been fantastic since it started is that there has been no guarantee that just because you have certain players or are ranked higher or are seen as the favourites that it’s a given you should win the game. The Glasgow Warriors played really well to be beat Munster at home. That just reinforced what I know – they’re good enough to beat anybody and we certainly won’t underestimate that. By tomorrow, what has happened before will be irrelevant. It’s all about 80 minutes in a final, and nothing matters beyond that.”


1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw, 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. David Kriel, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 15. Devon Williams

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Akker van der Merwe, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Reinhardt Ludwig, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Cornel Smit.

Leave a Reply