Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Compiled by Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

Springbok stars back for Bulls, Marcell Coetzee out for season

The Pretoria team are up against the defending champions Munster in a must-win game this weekend.

Prop Simphiwe Matanzima and scrumhalf Embrose Papier will each register their 50th appearance in the United Rugby Championship when the Bulls take on Irish side Munster at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, with kick-off at 5.05pm.

The Bulls will be desperate to notch up a win against the defending champions as they look to secure a top two spot on the table at the end of the regular season. After this weekend’s match they’ll have four more games before the knockout stages are reached.

Director of rugby Jake White has picked a powerful outfit for the match, with several Springboks back in the mix following last week’s Champions Cup match against Northampton in England.

Eight Boks back in the mix

In total there are eight Springboks in the run-on side, which will be led by Elrigh Louw, in the absence of regular leaders Marcell Coetzee, who appears to be out for the rest of the season, and Ruan Nortje, who is also injured.

Marco van Staden is also out with an injury, but there is place in the side for rising loose forward Cameron Hanekom as well as Mpilo Gumede, on the bench.

Recent World Cup winners Canan Moodie, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux are all in the starting team.

White said he was looking forward to seeing some of the players step up in the absence of the injured men.

“I am hopeful that Ruan Nortje will return soon and Marco, who has been sidelined since the Munster game,” said White. “He should be two to three weeks away now. We should be okay over the next couple of weeks but this is an opportunity for the next guy in line.”

Marcell Coetzee blow

Regarding the fitness and well-being of Coetzee, White said: “Marcel had an operation while we were away (at Northampton) and the doctors discovered that it was worse than initially thought and it looks like he will not feature for us for the remainder of this season. He is a big loss for us.”

Asked about the young combination in his forwards, White said he was excited to see how they would go against a top European team.

“It is a very interesting situation where we have a 19-year-old lock, 21-year-old flanks and a captain who is only 23,” said White.

“It is exciting because we have seen how Ludwig and Hanekom have grown quickly and we have seen the growth of Elrigh over the last couple of years. He too (Elrigh) was that age when he started with us. So, this is a combination I am looking forward to seeing because it has everything. It has skill, height, pace and it has youth which comes with energy.

“We are also playing at altitude, on our field which is generally quick. So having loose forwards who can also run is also a strength for us as well.”

Bulls: Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, David Kriel, Sebastian de Klerk, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elright Louw (capt), Reinhardt Ludwig, Cameron Hanekom, JF van Heerden, Ruan Vermaak, Wilco Louw, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Mpilo Gumede, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, Devon Williams