Sport Rugby

Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
16 Oct 2021
2:20 pm

Uys backed to ‘bring energy and spark’ to Bulls on artificial pitch

Ken Borland

“Edinburgh have changed the way they play a bit, their shackles are off and they try to express themselves."

Muller Uys will start his first game on tour for the Bulls against Edinburgh on Saturday. Picture: Roberto Bregani/Gallo Images

Young loose forward Muller Uys returns to the Bulls starting line-up at eighthman for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh, and coach Jake White said his extra pace will be important as South Africa’s champions run out on to another artificial pitch in the Scottish capital.

Elrigh Louw is having a breather and will play off the bench against Edinburgh, but such has been his outstanding form that Uys has not started for the Bulls since August 18 – against the Pumas in the penultimate round of Currie Cup fixtures before the semi-finals.

“Elrigh has played lots of rugby, he’s gone 80 minutes three times over here,” White explained on Friday. “Muller has trained well and been a part of our group for a long time. He’s a good athlete and quick, which is what you need on a 4G pitch. You can get stuck a bit in defence if you’re not athletic.

“Hopefully Muller brings energy and a spark to the team. He probably hasn’t played as much as we would have liked, but that’s because of the standard of play our loose forwards have produced, not just Elrigh, but also Marco van Staden, Marcell Coetzee and Arno Botha.

“Edinburgh have changed the way they play a bit, their shackles are off and they try to express themselves, and our ability to adapt again to the pace of the game will be important,” White said.

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Edinburgh made a flying start to last weekend’s game against the Stormers, scoring twice in the first six minutes, but thereafter they were strangled by some incredibly physical defence by the visitors.

While White said he wants the Bulls to not just defend but also attack, there is no doubt he will be looking to his big men to dominate the contact points.

“I think our defence will be asked some questions and it was very encouraging last weekend, our tackle success being far below standard in the first two games.

“So we’ve got to be consistent and try and grow from last week. But I don’t want us just to defend the whole time, we want to attack as well. Hopefully we can produce a more balanced 80 minutes and not have all-or-nothing at the beginning or end.

“We started well against Connacht, we were seven points up, but then we lost badly. Last weekend we were behind by 13 points early on, so we had to attack and we came back.

“This week’s challenge is a good side with a lot of South Africans involved, which is unique in itself. They will understand the way we play, so it will be a difficult game.”

Bulls: David Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier; Muller Uys, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Mornay Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Lizo Gqoboka.

Bench: Schalk Erasmus, Simphiwe Matanzima, Robert Hunt, Walt Steenkamp, Elrigh Louw, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Morne Steyn, Lionel Mapoe.