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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Jake White excited about youthful Bulls loose trio: ‘It’s got everything’

The Bulls boss has compared young Cameron Hanekom to Ireland international Josh van der Flier.

The Bulls’  recent injury woes have been well-documented and they go into their exciting United Rugby Championship encounter with Munster on Saturday with a youthful forward pack.

When they run out at Loftus Versfeld at 5.05pm on Saturday, the Bulls will be without their co-captains Ruan Nortje and Marcell Coetzee and Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok Marco van Staden.

Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, gave an update on where the trio are in their recovery, revealing that Coetzee is likely to be out for the rest of the season.

“I don’t think Ruan Nortje is too far away (from returning to action), so I’m hoping he’ll be back soon,” White said.

“Marcell had an operation (on his knee) while we were away. It was more serious than we thought, and it looks like he probably won’t play for the rest of the season, which is a massive loss for us. 

“Marco, after the Leinster game, has probably got another two to three weeks (before returning), so we should be okay with Nortje and Marco,” he said.

‘Young and exciting combination’

Nineteen-year-old JF van Heerden will continue deputising for Nortje, forming a lock combination with Ruan Vermaak on Saturday.

The loose trio that fills the void left by Coetzee and Van Staden includes Cameron Hanekom (No 6), Reinhardt Ludwig (No 7) and Elrigh Louw (No 8), who will also captain the team. 

White said he’s excited to see Van Heerden, Ludwig, Hanekom and Louw be the muscle of their pack.

“It is an opportunity,” said the veteran coach.

“The lock is 19 years old, six is 21, seven is 21, and the captain is 24; it’s really a young (pack) but exciting. We have seen how Ludwig and Cameron have grown this season, we saw what Elrigh did in the last couple of years, and he too was at that age when he started with us.

“So it is a combination that I’m looking forward to seeing, it has got everything, it has got skill, height, pace and youth which comes with energy.”

With Hanekom excelling in the eight jumper this season, his move to six came as a surprise. However, White is excited about the move to flanker, comparing Hanekom to Ireland international Josh van der Flier.

“He reminds me a lot of Josh van der Flier; Josh is an out-and-out openside flanker with pace, and there are things that Cameron does that’s Josh van der Flier-like,” he said.

Hanekom’s anticipation

White is not too concerned about Hanekom’s positional switch because of his “voorgevoel”, according to White, which translates to his natural ability to anticipate things.

“In Cameron, that’s what makes him exciting. I don’t think it’s a big adjustment to go from eight to six. He has got incredible “voorgevoel” (good feel), that sums him up,” White said.

“It’s almost like he knows where to go. There’s nothing I need to tell him, I think his “voorgevoel” is something that makes him different to other players. That’s why I think whether you put six on his back, eight on his back, and seven on his back even, I’m sure he’ll understand where he needs to go,” he said.