SURPRISE PACKAGE: Arendse back for Bulls, but Le Roux out for final

rugby21 June 2024 11:30| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Kurt-Lee Arendse © Gallo Images

The Vodacom Bulls received a massive boost ahead of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final on Saturday when their talisman Kurt-Lee Arendse was declared fit for the match.


But at the same time, the Bulls confirmed that Springbok veteran Willie le Roux would miss the final with concussion as they made just two changes to their match day 23 for the big game.

Le Roux had failed his Head Injury Assessment in the semifinal against Leinster and return to play protocols had prevented him from playing. But the setback was offset by the incredible news that Arendse, who was injured in a head clash with Benetton midfielder Malakai Fekitoa, would be back on the field three weeks after he was injured.

White said while Le Roux wanted to play, medical advice had ruled against it. In the process, Devon Williams will move from wing to fullback, with Arendse coming in at the wing. On the bench Zak Burger replaces Keegan Fredericks in the only other change.

“In the old days, the doctor would have asked can you see three fingers and if he could, would have said it is ok,” White said.

“You can imagine now with protocols and concussion and the fear of head injuries etc, which I understand, there is no way we can fast track anything. He failed his HIA, there is an obligatory time he has to be off.

“He wants to play, he keeps on saying he is fine, but that is a great sign for where we are as a group because everyone wants to be part of this final.”


Arendse’s injury mirrored that of French captain Antoine Dupont, who recovered within weeks to play for France against South Africa in the World Cup quarterfinal. But what makes Arendse’s return even more surprising was the fact that he was already ruled out by the Springboks for the first test against Ireland in two weeks time.

“Kurt-Lee - well Antoine Dupont had a cheek fracture, played in a quarterfinal of the World Cup against South Africa. Our doctor was impressed and really happy with how Kurt-Lee has recovered,” White explained.

“Obviously you can’t target anyone’s head and it is illegal to play a guy by his head in any case. So there is no fear of anything other than he wants to be part of it. The doctor says he is happy, the specialist says he is happy and to have him back, especially when we lose a guy like Willie and his experience is fantastic for us. “

White said the surprise was fantastic, but he would never have selected Arendse if there was a danger of further injury.

“I would never do it if I didn’t think he was ready. I would never force it. The bottom line is that it has to come from the player. He wants to play. Once you ask a specialist what more can go wrong and he says no, I fixed what I fixed, it is a little bit like a wound and all that has to happen is that the wound has to heal.

“Whatever happens inside is not going to change. Credit to him, and it says a lot because he could quite easily say that he has Bok tests coming up and perhaps he could sit out, but it means a lot to him and it means a lot to the team.”

White said Arendse had approached him to be part of the team and he sent him to the specialist to get clearance, which was given.

“I said to him, let’s go to the doctor, find out how it has healed and go to the specialist. Once he went to the specialist and got a bit of peace of mind from the guy who did the op that there is no more that can happen.

“Think about it though, the chances of that happening again in the same spot is really unlikely. That was a freak thing that happened, and when he heard that from the specialist, then he was happy to say he wants to be a part of it, and wants to play. He is massive for us.

“The other thing is that I don’t think Glasgow would have planned that he would play for us this week and that is massive as well. They would have probably thought that he was out.”

The sold out signs were put up at Loftus on Friday, giving the Bulls their first capacity crowd since the Stormers derby earlier this year and first full house for a final since 2009 at the stadium.

Vodacom Bulls: Devon Williams, Sergeal Petersen, David Kriel, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje (capt), Ruan Vermaak, Wilco Louw, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, Cornel Smit