The 3rd Article in the set discussing the Vodacom Bulls.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Vodacom Bulls 2013 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 was the time for Van der Merwe to build his own legacy in 2012. The big man enjoys 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 cut out his propensity to give silly penalties away, firmly cementing his place in the No 4 spot for the Springboks, however the young wonder, Eben Etzebeth from the Stormers, stands in his way for a Springbok starting spot.
Name: Petrus Johannes Juandre (Juandre) Kruger:
After kicking his heels during Super Rugby in 2011, Juandré Kruger made the most of his opportunities in 2012, taking the Super Rugby competition by storm and also representing the Springboks. The athletic lock forward has impressed in taking over the mantle of Victor Matfield, having developed into a supreme lineout master and with his ball carrying ability, but is not afraid to mix it up in the tight stuff, as witnessed during 2012 and his two years spent with Northampton Saints in the English Premiership and Heineken Cup.
He is now the man in the saddle in the No 5 spot in the Bulls and the Springboks.
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.
In 2012, alongside Andries Bekker he was a contender, having taken over from Victor Matfield as the No 5 lock for the Springboks. He will be coached at the Bulls this year by none other than Victor Matfield, so expect him to reign supreme in the lineouts again.
- 2012: Bulls (Super Rugby), Springboks (June Internationals & The Rugby Championship & End Of Year Tours), Blue Bulls (Currie Cup)
- 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: Jabez Wilhelmus Arnoldus (Wilhelm) Steenkamp:
After stints with the Sharks (on loan) in 2010 and the Cheetahs in 2011, Steenkamp returned to the Bulls for 2012. 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 light of the fact that Andries Bekker from the Stormers is so injury prone.
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.
- 2012: Bulls (Super Rugby), Blue Bulls (Currie Cup)
- 2011: Cheetahs (Super Rugby), Free State Cheetahs (Currie Cup)
- 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: Paul Willemse:
The 20 year old ex-Lion is a product of Monument High School in the Johannesburg area and absolutely excelled for the Junior Springboks in the Junior World Cup 2012.
He made his debut for the Lions in Super Rugby at the age of just 19 against the Cheetahs on 7 April 2012.
He is a big boy and has a very bright future ahead of him.
I expect him to really break through and make his mark in 2012, to only go from strenght to strenght from there.
- 2012: Lions (Super Rugby), Junior Springboks (IRB Junior World Championship), Golden Lions (ABSA Under 21 Competition), Golden Lions (Currie Cup)
- 2011: Golden Lions (ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2010: Golden Lions (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week)
- 2009: Namibia (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week)
Name: Cornell Norman (Cornell) Hess:
After representing SWD Eagles at several youth tournaments, he joined the Blue Bulls in 2006.
He made his first team debut for the Blue Bulls in the opening game of the 2010 Vodacom Cup, coming on as a substitute in their game against Griquas. He made a total of 28 appearances in this competition over the next three seasons and finally made his Currie Cup debut in the 2012 Currie Cup Premier Division.
- 2005: SWD (Under 16 Grant Khomo Week)
- 2006: SA Schools, Blue Bulls (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2007: Blue Bulls (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week), South Africa (IRB Under 19 World Championship), SA Schools, Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2008: South Africa (IRB World Championship), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2009: Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 21 Competition)
- 2010: Tuks (FNB Varsity Cup), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 21 Competition)
- 2011: Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (Currie Cup)
- 2012: Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (Currie Cup)
The Bulls will have the services of Marvin Orie, Schalk van Heerden and Mike Williams, from their junior ranks (in their wider Super Rugby training group) as backup, but knowing the Bulls as I do, they will gradually bring the youngsters through the ranks. The Blue Bulls are not known for nothing as THE LOCK FACTORY.
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. Paul Willemse and / or Cornell Hess might get some game time as rotation sets in in a long and arduous competition.
The next Article in the range will deal with the Bulls looseforwards.