Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

URC showdown at Loftus: Le Roux v Fassi, Moodie v Am, Louw v Nche

The match between the Bulls and Sharks promises to be one of the best so far this URC season.

With a bunch of World Cup-winning Springbok players back in the mix, and other rising stars eager to show what they can do, there is plenty to look forward to when the Bulls host the Sharks in a big United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Just one of the big showdowns will be that between high-flying Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi, who’s shown good form this season, and Bok veteran Willie le Roux, who made his debut for the Bulls last weekend.

Le Roux v Fassi

Both the Sharks and Bulls are coming off good wins — the Durban-based side against the Dragons and the Bulls against Connacht.

Fassi, who has played three Tests for the Boks — in 2021 — will be looking to find consistent form over the coming months as he’s sure to want to feature for the Boks again.

“Coming into this season I needed to focus on getting that consistency in my performance, reviewing where I can improve after each game,” said the 25-year-old.

Fassi’s performance will invariably be judged against veteran Le Roux, who’s won two World Cups.

“It’s the first time he’s played for us but it looked like he’d been with us for four years,” Bulls boss Jake White said of Le Roux’s debut last weekend.

“He’s got unbelievable timing, he’s very skilful, clever and you can already see the impact he has with guys like Canan [Moodie] and Kurt-Lee [Arendse].”

Midfield battle

Another notable one-on-one battle to look forward to on Saturday is the potential match-up in midfield between the Bulls’ Canan Moodie, should he be selected in midfield, and Lukhanyo Am of the Sharks.

Also, Kurt-Lee Arendse for the Bulls and Makazole Mapimpi for the Sharks are sure to be in action on the wings, while up front there’s the possibility of the Sharks’ powerhouse loosehead prop Ox Nche going head to head with veteran and new Bulls recruit Wilco Louw in the scrums.

Louw, who previously played for the Stormers and is now 29, made his Bok debut in 2017 and earned 14 caps through to 2021 and having joined the Pretoria-based team this season still dreams of playing more Test rugby.

“It’s every professional rugby player’s dream to play for his country, but first I have to play good rugby for the Bulls every weekend,” he said.

“If it happens it’ll be unbelievable. South Africa is our home, and that dream will always be there.”

Other recent World Cup winners who could feature at Loftus include Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, Grant Williams and Marco van Staden.