The 7th Article in the set discussing the Vodacom Bulls.
In this Article we look at the contenders for CENTRES in the Vodacom Bulls 2013 Super Rugby group, and what their worth will be in Super Rugby terms.
Name: Wynand Olivier:
Wynand “Meisiekind” Olivier was born in Welkom, attended the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunsskool (Affies) in Pretoria and made his provincial rugby debut for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup in a match against Boland in 2003. He made his debut in the Super 12 (now, Super Rugby) competition in 2005, playing for the Bulls in a game against the Otago-based Highlanders. He was included in Jake White’s 2006 Springboks 45 man training squad. Olivier made his Test debut in the first Test against Scotland in Durban in 2006 and was included in the Springbok starting lineup for the Tests against Scotland in Port Elizabeth and France in Cape Town. He was selected to tour with the Springboks as they started their Tri Nations quest in 2006.
Olivier has been an integral part of the Bull’s championship winning teams and although a lot of people will argue that he has not been an outstanding Springbok, he has been an excellent and outstanding game-breaking Blue Bulls and Bulls centre. Despite his match-winning qualities, he is second to Springbok veteran Adrian Jacobs in terms of consideration for the position of replacement center.
The very experienced midfielder has constantly shown himself to be one of the best in the competition and this year, despite the fact that he has been in Japan, should be no different. Olivier is the defensive kingpin at the back, provides real thrust on attack and has developed a great understanding with Morné Steyn on his inside. Olivier will also be keen to use this platform to propel himself back into the Springbok team, having missed out on World Cup selection in 2011.
- Young SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee, 2005
- ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year nominee , 2008
- In 2008 he was inducted into the University of Pretoria Sport Hall of fame.
Name: Lionel Granton (Lionel) Mapoe:
Lionel came through the Junior ranks at the Free State Cheetahs until he decided to leave to go to the Sharks and a contractual row soured things between him and the Free State Cheetahs as well as between him and the Sharks. The Golden Lions saw the opportunity and signed Lionel Mapoe for 2011 onwards but injury played havoc with Lionel in 2011.
2012 Was finally the year Lionel Mapoe would start to show his worth and Lionel had a good season with the MTN Lions, who unfortunately were relegated from Super Rugby for the 2013 season.
Few players love scoring tries more than Lionel Mapoe, on loan from the MTN Lions and whether used as outside centre or wing, expect this hard-running player to be amongst the try-scoring leaders at the end of the competition. A stellar season with the Lions saw him drafted into the Springboks touring squad in November 2012 and he will no doubt be a better player for it upon his return to Vodacom Super Rugby.
Hopefully injury stays away in 2013 for Lionel.
In recent years, the position of Outside Center has been a real problem and Lionel could fill this void very nicely in conjunction with the crop of promising youg Bulls upstarts hot on his heels.
- 2004 – Free State (Under 16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week)
- 2005 – Free State (Under 18 Academy Week)
- 2006 – Free State (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week)
- 2007 – Free State (Vodacom Cup), Free State (ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2008 – South Africa (IRB Junior World Championships), Free State (ABSA Under 21 Competition)
- 2009 – South Africa (IRB Sevens World Cup), Free State (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division), Free Staet (ABSA Under 21 Competition)
- 2010 – Vodacom Cheetahs (Super 14), Free State (ABSA Currie Cup), Sharks (ABSA Currie Cup squad)
- 2011 – MTN Lions (Super Rugby), MTN Golden Lions (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
- 2012 – MTN Lions (Super Rugby), MTN Golden Lions (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division), South Africa (Castle Outgoing Tours – End Of Year Tours – Squad member)
Name: Jacobus Francois (Francois) Venter:
This youngster hailing from Bloemfontein where he attended Grey College Primary School as well as Grey College at secondary school level, studies at the University of Pretoria and made his debut in Senior Professional Rugby, for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in 2010, when he was only 18. He has since gone on to represent the Blue Bulls from the 2011 ABSA Currie Cup, where he has now already distinguished and established himself and where people are starting to think, me included, that he might just take Wynand Olivier’s mantle over in the very near future, at inside centre.
The former South African Under 20 midfielder has already proven his worth in the senior ranks with a stellar debut year in the 2011 Currie Cup. Very quick off the mark, great running angles and sound distribution are core skills for the former SA Schools player, who will be pushing fellow midfielders Wynand Olivier and the rest of the young crew hard for a starting berth all season.
- 2006 – Free State (Under 16 Coca Cola Grant Khomo Week)
- 2008 – Under 18 Elite Squad, SA Schools, Free State (Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week)
- 2009 – Free State (Under 19 ABSA Under 19 Competition)
- 2010 – Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), South Africa (IRB Junior World Championships), Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (ABSa Under 19 Competition)
- 2011 – Vodacom Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), South Africa (IRB Junior World Championship), Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 21 Competition)
- 2012 – Bulls (Super Rugby), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 21 Competition), Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
Name: William Small-Smith:
Schooled at the Rugby Factory, none other than Grey College in Bloemfontein.
He was a young Springbok Sevens star and was a member of the Blitzbokke. William was a regular captain of the Blue Bulls Under 19 team and did very well in the first two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series in 2011, including scoring the winning try in the Blitzbokke’s memorable win over New Zealand early December 2011.
He captained both the SA Schools & SARU High Performance Under 18 sides in 2010.
There was massive expectation when William Small-Smith arrived in Blue Bulls country at the start of 2011. He also jumped straight into senior rugby in 2011 by playing Vodacom Cup rugby for the Blue Bulls.
Initially it was his performances in the Vodacom Cup for the Blue Bulls that really had the tongues wagging. Small-Smith’s leadership with the side catches the eye, his tactical acumen is a joy to behold and he leads with his play on the field as well.
Not only is his attacking play great to see when he is carrying the ball, his distribution skills is top class. He is also a very strong defender.
2013 Might be the year that he breaks though, but he’s got stiff opposition at the Bulls in 2013 with a plethera of very good centres all vying for just 2 starting spots at the Bulls in the centres. The crop of centres has not looked this good at the Bulls for decades.
Name: Jan Lodewyk (Jan) Serfontein:
Massive expectation comes with Serfontein’s elevation into top flight rugby. Named Player of the Tournament at last year’s IRB Junior World Cup was almost a forgone conclusion following the Junior Springbok’s sublime form in the tournament, culminating in a decisive try for his team in the final. Some Currie Cup action for the Vodacom Blue Bulls justified the hype and the young upstart should find the next level with comfortable ease, thanks to his pace, power and time on the ball.
- 2006 – Eastern Province (Under 13 Coca-Cola Craven Week)
- 2008 – Under 16 Elite Squad (Elite Squads), Eastern Province (Under 16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week)
- 2009 – Free State (Under 16 Grant Khomo Week)
- 2011 – Free State (Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week), SA Schools
- 2012 – Blue Bulls (odacom Cup), South Africa (IRB Junior World Championships – winner and player of the Tournament and Year), Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 19 Competition), Blue Bulls )ABSA Under 21 Competition), Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
Name: Ulrich Beyers:
Ulrich represented the Pumas from Under 16 level (2007) and for 2 consecutive years at the Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week (2008 & 2009), then moved to the Cape where he represented Western Province in the ABSA Under 19 Competition.
In 2011 he moved to the Blue Bulls and has represented the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup team with distinction.
In 2011 Ulrich also represented South Africa at the IRB Junior World Championships.
He is a free-flowing player with great tactical kicking ability and can be utilised at fullback and center. Ulrich has been chosen to run out for the Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby warm-up side to face the Kings this weekend.
Young, fearless and very skilled – that is Ulrich Beyers for you. The versatile former Junior Springboks player can play almost anywhere in the backline and his massive boot again contributed to the Vodacom Blue Bulls and their Cup-winning Under 21 side in 2012. Now ready for the big stage, Beyers will be looking to make the most of his opportunities.
This is where it starts getting dicey, not because of a lack of talent but due to an abundance of talent available. One would think that the fight for inside centre is between old dog Wynand Olivier and young Francois Venter, but Jan Serfonein could sneak in there at inside or at outside centre too. At outside centre Lionel Mapoe might have the inside track, but William Small-Smith and Jan Serfontein will give him a hell of a go… and then in addition you have JJ Engelbrecht, the recent Springbok who played outside centre in 2012 too, apart from playing on the wing.
Nobody will miss Johan Sadie, who has departed for the Cheetahs, after a poor year at the Bulls in 2012.
I have a sneaky suspicion that Ulrich Beyers won’t get any Super Rugby game time unless somehow he needs to cover at fullback, but he’ll mostly play Vodacom Cup rugby.
The next Article in the range will deal with the Bulls Back Three, which will include the Back Three (Wings and Fullbacks).