In the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2014 (23 to 29 December), we will discuss 2 positions in seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) and also seperate the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.
That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.
The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Vodacom Bulls 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Name: Dean MacGyver Greyling “Wors”:
Three years ago Greyling was a back-up prop to Gurthrö Steenkamp at the Bulls, but with the latter now in Toulouse, Greyling used that opportunity to cast his own shadow. Powerful with ball in hand but often with suspect technique on the loosehead side of the scrum, he impressed a lot of people in 2011 and 2012, even making the Springbok side. He made a lasting yet very dubious impression when called upon for Test match duty, specially when he cleared Richie McCaw illegally from a ruck earning him a deserved Yellow Card and then subsequently being dropped from Springbok contention.
Dean ‘MacGyver’ Greyling was one of the stars of the 2004 Craven Week competition and if he could sort out his wayward scrumming technique and propensity for stupidity he could established himself as a powerhouse in South African rugby.
Greyling attended Affies, in Pretoria, and played for the Bulls age-group sides from 2005 to 2007. He was one of the standout players in the 2010 Currie Cup and was rewarded with a call up to the Springboks Preliminary training squad ahead of their end-of-year tour. He continued his good form during the 2011 Super Rugby and was selected to start at loosehead prop for the Springboks on their Tri- Nations tour against Australia and New Zealand in 2011.
Funny story – It seems that Greyling, whilst a youngster, was besotted with the television programme MacGyver and pestered his folks to the extent that they actually changed his name on his birth certificate. All grown up now, there was the idea to change it, but Greyling decided otherwise.
- 2013: Bulls & Blue Bulls (Super Rugby & Currie Cup)
- 2012: Bulls & Blue Bulls (Super Rugby & Springboks)
- 2011: Bulls & Blue Bulls (Super Rugby & Springboks)
- 2010: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup), Bulls (Super 14)
- 2009: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
- 2008: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Bulls (Vodacom Super 14)
- 2007: Blue Bulls (Under-21), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division)
- 2006: Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (Under-19)
- 2005: Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup Qualifying 21und), Blue Bulls (Under-21)
- 2004: Blue Bulls (U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week)
In my opinion, Dean’s shares are still down and I expect him to work hard on his shortcomings and rectify a lot of those in 2014.
Greyling is a very hard strike runner and is a very busy player in the loose and at ruck and maul time. Expecting an improved year from the “Wors”.
Name: Werner Kruger:
Kruger improved season upon season until 2011 when a call-up to the Springboks in 2011 was no surprise. In 2012 and 2013 there was a bit of a slump in his form but he still regularly made the Bulls Super Rugby side. Already a stalwart in previous Bulls packs, it will be expected of this durable prop to show the way as a senior member of the tight five. He has to re-generate the basics of scrumming and show a re-newed passion for rugby in 2014.
He made his debut for the Bulls during the 2008 season. Kruger was part of the Bulls team that won both the 2009 and 2010 Super 14 finals. He has represented South Africa at under 21 level and in 2011 also the Springboks.
Call him slow poison, the silent assassin or the rock of the Bulls scrum, it will not matter, he will play a vital role in the Bulls side in 2014.
Kruger’s contribution does not finish with scrumming, he was known to be solid on defense and often enough topped the stats with cleans at the ruck and his support play at line-out time was spot-on.
“I have tasted what it is like to play for the Springboks and I want more. I would like to be involved with the Springboks again and play tests for my country.”
I do not think Werner is in contention for the Springboks and has certainly been usurped by Frans Malherbe at the Stormers and Lourens Adriaanse who will be at the Sharks in 2014.
Name: Frik Kirsten:
After some time away from the game recovering from a neck operation and university studies, Kirsten wass finally ready for rugby on the big stage in 2012. A fantastic athlete who can run most backs ragged, the former national age group player added depth and brains to the Bulls pack. He is versatile and predominantly plays at tighthead prop where he rotates with Werner Kruger in the regular match-day squad and bench. The ability to scrum both sides of the scrum, makes him a valuable squad member in a long season.
Frik Kirsten is one of a number of youngsters that was included by Frans Ludeke in his Super 14 squad in 2009.
Frik has played for the SA under 19′s as well as the SA under 20′s. He has attended Laerskool Elarduspark in Pretoria where he mostly played number 8 and was selected for the Blue Bulls’ Primary Schools Craven Week team. He enrolled at Affies where he continued playing at number 8, but in his under 16 year he was moved to lock and in his St 9 year he made the permanent switch to tighthead prop.
Frik has Bok ambitions and some sports scribes rate Frik as having huge potential. In a struggling Bulls front row and scrum, may this be a year that he proves them right!
Name: Marcel van der Merwe:
This hardy tighthead prop has moved from The Toyota Free State Cheetahs to join the Bulls for the 2013 season and beyond but 2013 was a nightmare season with a long term injury keeping him out of the side.
Marcel seems to have lost weight and also has not returned to good form since returning from injury but he has potential and is versatile and could push Werner Kruger and Frik Kirsten hard for the tighthead spot in 2014.
He represented Western Province in the Grant Khomo Week in 2006 and graduated to the Western Province Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week side in 2008, then moved to the Free State where he played in the ABSA Under 19 Competition in 2009. In 2010 He played for Shimlas in the FNB Varsity Cup, for the Free State Cheetahs in the Vodacom Cup and for the Junior Bokke in the IRB Junior World Championships. 2010 was a good year for Marcel because he also played for the Free State Cheetahs in some Currie Cup friendlies, the ABSA Under 21 Competition and the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division.
In 2011 he played for the Free State Cheetahs in the Vodacom Cup and in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division.
2012 Was his break-through year and he represented the Toyota Cheetahs in Super Rugby, the Vodacom Cup, the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division and also in the Promotion / Relegation games against the EP Kings.
If he could stay injury free in 2014 he could become part of the Bulls scrum rejuvination in 2014. Springbok colours is not reasonable prospect for him in 2014.
Name: Morné Mellett:
Morné is a loosehead prop who has battled injuries in the last couple of seasons. He was drafted into the Vodacom Bulls 2012 touring squad to Australasia, although he did not play and made his Super Rugby debut against the Stormers in 2013 but only played about half the regular season before injury struck, leaving him to only return during the Currie Cup in 2013.
He joined the Blue Bulls out of school and came through the structures well. Former Valke Craven Week and Vodacom Cup for Blue Bulls.
After representing the Falcons at several youth tournaments, he joined the Blue Bulls in 2010.
He made his first team debut for the Blue Bulls in the 2010 Vodacom Cup, coming on as a substitute in their game against his former team, the Falcons. He made several appearances in this competition over the next three seasons and finally made his Currie Cup debut in the 2012 Currie Cup Premier Division against the Free State Cheetahs. He now has 10 Blue Bulls senior caps and 12 Super Rugby caps for the Bulls.
He also played for Tuks in the 2010 and 2011 Varsity Cup competitions.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with their two frontline props, Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger but I expect Morné Mellett and Frik Kirsten to become the regular starters partway through the season.
There is no reason why the Bulls scrum, with these props anchoring their scrum should not be right up there in the quality stakes, as they proved in 2013 when the Bulls easily won the South African Conference of Super Rugby.
The players who will play at prop for the Bulls are all seasoned campaigners, playing for the Bulls Franchise who pride themselves as traditional heavyweights in the forwards stakes, but this year begs a scrumming rejuvination from the bulls front row.
The next Article in the range will deal with the Bulls hookers.