GBS just contacted me from the Media Day at the Bulls with the following news:
Firstly Pierre Spies is Captain and Wynand Olivier will be Vice Captain after recovering from surgery (today) and is expected to be out of rugby for 2 months.
They also introduced the new young players and recent signings, amongst them the following players:
- Daniel Adongo
- Johann Sadie
- JJ Engelbrecht
- Lionel Cronje
Another interesting point is that Wesley Dunlop, former Tukkies Captain and who played for the Leopards in the Currie Cup has also been added to the Bulls mix.
Here’s the formal Press Release we received via mail from Ian Schwatz, High Performance Manager at the Bulls:
Thirteen Springboks, two Springboks Sevens representatives and 23 players with Super Rugby experience are amongst those who are currently training with the Vodacom Bulls ahead of the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The wider training group of the Bulls consists of 15 players who have won tournament medals with the squad in previous years. Four players, Lionel Cronjé and Johann Sadie (Stormers), Jano Vermaak and Wilhelm Steenkamp (Cheetahs) played for other franchises in 2011, while Willie Wepener, who played for the Lions in previous years, recently returned from French club Clermont.
Dawie Steyn (Pumas) and Daniel Adongo (Sharks) are new recruits.
The youth policy followed by the Union this year also resulted in numerous junior players being involved in the squad.
This includes SA u.20 players Arno Botha, Francois Venter, Ulrich Beyers, Jean Cook (signed from Cheetahs) and Bongi Mbonambi.
Members of the Absa u.21 Cup-winning Blue Bulls side also train with the squad, including Sampie Mastriet, Clayton Blommetjies, Adri Jacobs and Franco Mostert.
LB Lusaseni, who is contracted at the Leopards, also trains with the squad, although the Lions have first option on his eventual services.
Commenting on the pre-season training, Vodacom Bulls head coach Frans Ludeke warned that hard work awaits the squad.
“We have lost some great players due to retirements and overseas contracts, but I am excited about the change of guard within the squad. We had a proud history in Super Rugby in recent times and will work very hard to emulate that,” Ludeke said.
The Bulls will stay at Loftus Versfeld for pre-season training this year and not travel to George for a training camp.
The wider training group is (*indicates players not part of previous squads):
Zane Kirchner, Jurgen Visser*, Lionel Cronjé*, Clayton Blommetjies*, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht*, Sampie Mastriet*, Akona Ndungane, Ulrich Beyers*, Adri Jacobs*, Wynand Olivier, Johann Sadie*, Francois Venter*, Louis Fouché*, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Ruan Snyman, Jano Vermaak*.
Pierre Spies (Captain), CJ Stander, Arno Botha*, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Daniel Adongo*, Jean Cook*, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter*, Jono Ross*, Warwick Tecklenburg*, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Mthunzi Mabeta, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Flip van der Merwe, LB Lusaseni*, Cornell Hess*, Franco Mostert*, Werner Kruger, Rossouw de Klerk, Frik Kirsten, Dean Greyling, Morné Mellett, Dawie Steyn*, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Willie Wepener*, Robbie Coetzee*, Bongi Mbonambi*.
This is the official news about and from the Captains:
Incumbent Springboks eight man, Pierre Spies, will lead the Vodacom Bulls in the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, with another experienced test player, Wynand Olivier, his deputy.
It will be a first for Spies to lead the Vodacom Bulls. He takes over from the now retired Victor Matfield, who led the side in Super Rugby for a record 75 times.
Spies, who’s dad (Pierre snr) also played for the Blue Bulls, admits that the captaincy is a massive honour.
“It was not such a big surprise though, as I had it in the back of my mind that I could be asked to lead the team when Victor retired. I was privileged in my career at the Bulls and the Springboks to play with great captains and I could certainly learn a lot from them.”
Spies, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2005 and has played for the Bulls 72 times, said he will try and lead from the front.
“I would like to try and do that. I believe a captain should lead from the front and I hope that will be something that I can do successfully. There are huge challenges ahead, but we are all looking forward to that. This group is younger than in previous years, but we have the same goals as those squads and that is to win the competition.”
Olivier, who was the regular vice-captain during the recent Currie Cup campaign, is also keen on his role.
“I like that responsibility. Anyone who wants to write off the Bulls because we lost players, do so at their own peril. I think we have a squad that can with the competition again. There are new faces, so there will be a challenge to make sure all share the same vision, but I see no problems in that. We have a great management team and coaching staff and they will get everyone to pull in the same direction.”
Incidentally, both Spies en Olivier attended Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies) and represented the Blue Bulls at schools level first before going on to represent the union at junior and senior level.
●Numerous Bulls players in the squad have excelled as captains. Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dewald Potgieter both captained the Springboks in a tour match and Wilhelm Steenkamp has captained the Blue Bulls in Currie Cup and Cheetahs in Super Rugby before.
Gerrit-Jan van Velze, CJ Stander and Arno Botha are all former captains of the South African u.20 team that played in the Junior World Cup tournament.