Silly for Bulls to expect leniency as Jake paints them as underdogs
'They are one of the biggest clubs in the world. We’re under no illusions that it will be easy.'
The tenacious Lionel Mapoe is expected to form a formidable midfield partnership with Harold Vorster for the Bulls. Picture: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images
The Bulls know it would be stupid to expect any leniency from Munster, as the famous Irish club tries to get their season going, in their United Rugby Championship clash at Thomond Park on Saturday night, with coach Jake White almost painting his side as underdogs.
Based just on the URC log, then the Bulls would clearly be considered as favourites, sitting nicely in fifth place after just one loss in four matches, compared to Munster languishing in 12th spot after just one win in four fixtures.
But White says there is far too much quality and history behind this Munster line-up for them to be taken lightly.
“Everyone in Ireland has been reminding us how tough it is to play at Thomond Park, from breakfast to dinner time. We are getting the whole vibe and hopefully that will help us make sure we’re ready.
“We played poorly last weekend, I’ll be the first to admit, and Munster are a good team, they have massive Test experience in their group. I’m sure they will get themselves up because they’re such a big club.
“They’re like the Liverpool, Man United or Barcelona of rugby because they have won European cups; they are one of the biggest clubs in the world. We’re under no illusions that it will be easy.
“We lost one game and we were rightly hammered as being poor on the night, they have lost three games, so imagine how they are feeling. I’m sure they’re disappointed with where they are at the moment,” White said.
Still, the Bulls must have a reasonable chance of repeating their 29-24 win over Munster at Loftus Versfeld last season, especially with Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Harold Vorster and Wandisile Simelane returning to a star-studded backline, and plenty of physicality up front.
“After a loss like ours against Glasgow, the players tend to rally around and are more focused anyway,” White said. “We had a good training week and we know it’s a massive game.
‘I think we could have some really good combinations with Johan and Embrose both Springboks trying to get back there, and Harold and Lionel Mapoe having played three Super Rugby finals together.”
Bulls: Kurt-lee Arendse, Cornel Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Wandisile Simelane, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, WJ Steenkamp, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench – Bismarck du Plessis, Dylan Smith, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Vermaak, Marco van Staden, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, David Kriel.