The 3rd Article in the set discussing the Vodacom Bulls.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Vodacom Bulls 2012 Super Rugby group, and what their worth will be in Super Rugby terms.
Name: Phillip Rudolph (Flip) van der Merwe
He was always compared to Bakkies Botha, but with the veteran Bok gone, it is time for Van der Merwe to build his own legacy. The big man should enjoy the responsibility of being the hard man in the side and the go to man for breaching the advantage line, setting up drives and putting pressure on the opposing scrum. Much of the tight five will revolve around Van der Merwe.
In June 2010 he was selected to represent the Springboks, for the June 12 test against France. In 2009, van der Merwe was recruited by the Blue Bulls. Prior to joining the Blue Bulls, van der Merwe played his rugby for the Cheetahs. His father Flippie won six caps for South Africa from 1981 to 1989.
This is the year where Flip has to kick on and make the Springbok No 4 lock position his own.
Name: Petrus Johannes Juandre (Juandre) Kruger
After kicking his heels during Super Rugby in 2011, expect Juandré Kruger to make the most of his opportunities this year. The athletic lock forward has impressed in Currie Cup 2011 with his ball carrying ability and line-out play, but is not afraid to mix it up in the tight stuff, as witnessed during his two years spent with Northampton Saints in the English Premiership and Heineken Cup.
He is widely regarded as one of the best up and coming second row forwards prospect in South African rugby.He started his career off at Western Province, representing them in the 2007 Vodacom Cup. From there he moved to the Blue Bulls, competing for them in the 2008 Vodacom Cup. He also featured for the Blue Bulls in the 2008 Currie Cup, at times being preferred to Springbok internationals Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.Kruger was an unused replacement in the Final of the 2008 Currie Cup, against the Natal Sharks.
Kruger then made the move to Northampton Saints. He enjoyed a successful partnership with Fernando Lobbe. In his first season at the club, he won the ECC.In his second and final season, he featured in the Heineken Cup,played in a Guinness Premiership Semi Finaland won the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Kruger re-joined the Blue Bulls in 2010.
This year, alongside Andries Bekker he is touted to be the contenders to take over from Victor Matfield as the No 5 lock for the Springboks.
2011: Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup & Currie Cup)
2010: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Northampton Saints (Guinness Premiership)
2009: Northampton Saints (Guinness Premiership)
2008: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
2007: Western Province (Currie Cup Premier Division), Western Province (Vodacom Cup)
2006: Western Province (Vodacom Cup), Western Province (Under-21)
2005: Western Province (Under-21)
2004: Western Province (Under-20)
Name: Ojiambo Daniel (Daniel) Adongo
The 22 year old Kenyan player has been a member of the Sharks Academy in recent years and has represented the Sharks at u.19, u.21 and Vodacom Cup level, playing in all 10 of the Sharks XV matches in 2011, scoring three tries. He was also part of the Sharks Super Rugby team that played in a pre-season tournament against the Stormers and Lions in Cape Town last year. The Nairobi born player is equally adept playing at lock or loose forward and with his express pace, also played wing for the Sharks in age group rugby.
This rising Kenyan star is fast becoming a sensation in the South African firmament. Although he is unsung in his motherland, Adongo’s fledgling rugby career is growing by leaps and bounds, and he is bound to become a familiar name in international rugby circles.
He apparently bench presses 160 kg and has timed 4.88 seconds over 40 metres. His build and skill make for a player destined for international rugby.
“I have considered playing for Kenya, but I would like to play for South Africa (Springboks) which I strongly believe I can do. There is still a lot of work to be done on and off the field,” he said.
All I can add is that he has muscles in places even Pierre Spies has’nt got places!
Name: Jabez Wilhelmus Arnoldus (Wilhelm) Steenkamp
After stints with the Sharks (on loan) in 2010 and the Cheetahs in 2011, Steenkamp will be keen to use those added experiences upon his return to the Bulls set-up. A solid, reliable lock forward who always gives 110%, the Bulls pack will leave nothing out there if Steenkamp, who also captained the Cheetahs at times, has his way. Already an Emerging Springbok, Steenkamp will be motivated by a possible Bok call-up in 2012.
Wilhelm Steenkamp made his mark with the Bulls in the during the 2008 Super 14 season – filling in for Victor Matfield while the Springbok legend was playing in France.
Steenkamp is a fantastic lineout specialist and a player who has been tipped to go on to big things in the future. He is also highly respected as a leader.
2011: Cheetahs (Super Rugby)
2010: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), The Sharks (Vodacom Super 14)
2009: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Emerging Springboks (British & Irish Lions Tour), Bulls (Super 14)
2008: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Bulls (Super 14)
2007: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), SA Emerging (IRB Nations Cup), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Bulls (Super 14)
2006: South Africa (IRB Under-21), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (Under- 21)
2005: Blue Bulls (Under-21), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
2004: Blue Bulls (Under-20)
Name: Gerrit-Jan van Velze
Van Velze is a re-treaded No 8, used at the end of last year in the Currie Cup almost exclusively as a No 4 lock. The planning then and now is for the Blue Bulls and Bulls to find suitable replacements for the fact that Bakkies Botha has left South Africa to go play at Toulon in France.
Van Velze, an IRB Under-19 player of the year nominee and former SA Schools captain, has become an integral part of the Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad and is set to move up to the Super Rugby squad this year.
Gerrit-Jan announced the signing of himself with the Blue Bulls again on Twitter, saying: “Proud to say that I’ve signed a new 2 year deal @ the bulls!!!”
The Bulls would have also had the services of Mtunzi (Fudge) Mabeta for this season had it not been for an injury to Mabeta which will keep him out of the whole Super Rugby competition in 2012.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with Flip van der Merwe at No 4 lock, with Juandre Kruger set to fill the No 5 lock spot and of course with the experienced Wilhelm Steenkamp on the bench.
The next Article in the range will deal with the Bulls looseforwards.