Arendse, Moodie back for Bulls

rugby24 March 2023 11:54| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Kurt-Lee Arendse celebrating with teammates © Gallo Images

Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White was in a reflective mood in naming his team to face Ulster in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Ulster on Saturday night.

Because above all, the Bulls need to find a way to get themselves out of the rut they are in, and White knows that.

That’s why he turned to an analogy of a round of golf to describe the team’s task against Duane Vermeulen’s side at Ravenhill on a Saturday evening.

“The first thing we have to try and do is get a win. We have three games left. I’ve sit it's like we have a few long par fours left and we are playing into the wind. We need to find a way to make a birdie or two to try and make the cut,” White explained.

“That’s the most important thing right now - winning. If we do that all other things will fall in place.”

The Bulls named a squad that welcomed back the two Springboks in Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie, both who missed a number of games when the Bulls needed their strike power and the hope is that somewhere on a Belfast early Spring evening they will find the same form that made opposition teams fear them.


White reflected a bit on how the Bulls got this watershed point, a moment where if they don’t find a way of standing up from their own string of losses, they could very well still miss out on a playoff spot.

“I’ve been questioned and cross questioned, I’ve been philosophical and reflected and I’m fully aware that if we had maybe played the same group of players week in and out we may have turned this around. The players haven’t gelled and I’ve swopped combinations.

“Last year we kept the same squad and played on Wednesday and Saturdays and we played our best rugby when we trained a little and played a lot together. I wasn’t convinced that flogging the same horse would get the same results.”

White revealed he has been looking inward, consulting coaching friends and even listening to coaching podcasts in other sports to try and find a way out of the streak the Bulls are struggling with.

“I saw an interview of (Leinster assistant coach) Stuart Lancaster this week and he was talking of how he coached Hugo Keenan and Gary Ringrose as 20 year olds and now they’re 29 and they’ve played together consistently and won Heineken Cups, Six Nations and other trophies. They’ve been able to keep that group together and it has paid dividends.

“I’ve swopped and tried different combinations, hoping to get the same return and to be fair, we haven’t. So I want to give this group a fair crack to play for an extended period and see if it works.”

White admitted it would be tough against Ulster, especially with their strong home record.

“They are very balanced and have settled well at home. They have a big pack of forwards and do well with the style of players they have. They weren’t an easy team to beat in South Africa and are tougher to beat at home.”

The match kicks off at 9.35pm.

VODACOM BULLS: Kurt-Lee Arendse; Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, David Kriel; Chris Smith, Zak Burger; Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco van Staden, Ruan Norje (captain), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp.

REPLACEMENTS: Simphiwe Matanzima, Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, WJ Steenkamp, Embrose Papier, Morne Steyn, Stedman Gans.