Nortje, Van Staden return for Bulls

rugby10 May 2024 13:18| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Ruan Nortje © Gallo Images

The Vodacom Bulls received a significant boost ahead of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship showdown with table toppers Glasgow Warriors on Saturday as regular captain Ruan Nortje and World Cup winner Marco van Staden returned to their starting line-up.

The duo’s return couldn’t come at a better time for Director of Rugby Jake White, who is keen to see his fourth placed side head into the final rounds and challenge for a top two position.

But the Warriors will be a tough game for the Bulls, even if it is a 2pm kickoff on a warm Pretoria day.

The return of the duo has been welcomed by White, who believes they will have an immediate impact on the side.

“To be fair, we’ve done really well without them. They are two really good stalwarts of our club. One is a World Cup winner, one is a captain. We lost our captain for a while and our lineout - not that it was poor, is just so much better when he is in the side,” White said.

“Tomorrow against Glasgow, they have a really good lineout. To have him back and Marco at the breakdown too is great for us - because the one thing about Glasgow, they play quickly. Breakdowns are important and having a guy like Marco who is really good at the breakdowns is also going to be good for us.”

Other than the return, White also swopped his hookers - Akker van der Merwe starts with Johan Grobbelaar on the bench while Reinhardt Ludwig drops to the bench to accommodate Nortje’s return.

With Van Staden back, Nizaam Carr also drops to the bench and gives the Bulls a preferred loose trio of Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw and Van staden.

White said while the game was at 2pm, he hoped that the same stalling tactics that Munster used, won’t get used again and that it would be an entertaining contest.

“You saw what happened last time when Munster played. It was stop-start and slow. It is such an interesting complexity because if they go away from what has been working for them, in some ways it is not them,” White said in reference to Glasgow’s normally expansive approach.

“If they continue to do what they do well, at altitude at 2pm in the afternoon, they could run out of legs. That is just the way it works. It is not a secret, you ask any player who plays at Loftus, they will tell you that the second half it feels like your legs fall off.

“It will be interesting to see, I’m not sure if they will come with an attitude that they will try and run us off our feet, which they are good at, so it will be interesting to see what they do. But we have to expect both.

“With respect if they want to play quickly,we have to be good enough and if they want to slow it down, when we can control the tempo, we need to control the tempo the way we want to play.”

VODACOM BULLS: Willie le Roux; Canan Moodie, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse; Chris Smith, Embrose Papier; Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw (captain), Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje (capt), Ruan Vermaak, Wilco Louw, Akker van der Merwe, Gerhard Steenekamp.

Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Jaco van der Walt, Devon Williams.