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This is the 7th article in the series of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We do 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for MIDFIELD in the Vodacom Bulls 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

 

 

The Contenders:

Name: Jan Lodewyk “Jan” Serfontein:

Position Inside Centre
Height 1.87m
Weight 98kg
Date of Birth 15 April 1993
Place of Birth Bloemfontein
Provincial Debut 2012 for Vodacom Blue Bulls
Provincial Caps 11
Provincial Points 20
Super Rugby Debut 2013 for Vodacom Bulls
Super Rugby Caps 12
Super Rugby Points 10
Test Debut 8 June 2013 vs Italy in Durban
Test Caps 9
Test Points 5
Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein is a product of Grey Junior (PE), Grey High (PE) and Grey College.

He represented Eastern Province at the Under 13 Coca-Cola Craven Week in 2006 and also at Under 16 level at the U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week in 2008 and was also a member of the South African U16 Elite Squads in 2008.

In 2009 and still Under 16 he represented Free State at the U16 Grant Khomo Week.

In 2011 he represented Free State at the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and South Africa at SA Schools level.

In 2012 he joined the Blue Bulls where he immediately advanced to Vodacom Cup level, as well as playing i the ABSA Under 21 and Under 19 Competitions, as well as playing for South Africa at the IRB Junior World Championship. At the tournament he was named as 2012 IRB Junior Player of the Tournament and later as IRB Junior Player of the Year. He made his senior Currie Cup Premier Division debut in the same year.

In 2013 he played Super Rugby for the Vodacom Bulls as well as ABSA Under 21 rugby, Currie Cup Premier Division rugby. He was also included in the squad for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship, but was later withdrawn in order to make him available for the senior national team.

He made his debut for the Springboks versus Italy on 8 June 2013 at Kings Park Stadium in Durban, playing from the bench as a replacement for Bryan Habana from the 71st minute and already has 9 Springbok caps to his name at age 20.

His playing career is as follows:

  • 2006 – Eastern Province – U13 Coca Cola Craven Week
  • 2008 – South Africa – U16 Elite Squads, Eastern Province – U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week
  • 2009 – Free State – U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week
  • 2011 – Free State – U 18Coca-Cola Craven Week, South Africa – SA Schools
  • 2012 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, South Africa – IRB Junior World Championship, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 19 Competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2013 – Vopdacom Bulls – Vodacom Super Rugby, Springboks – Castle Lager Incoming Series, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, Springboks – The Rugby Championship, Springboks – Castle Lager Outgoing Tour

Jan Serfontein is virtually assured of being the prime No 12 (inside centre) at the Bulls in 2014 and will also be looking to add to his impressive 9 Test caps.

 

Name: William Thomas “William” Small-Smith:

Position Centre
Height 1.84m
Weight 90kg
Date of Birth 31 March 1992
Place of Birth Johanesburg
Provincial Debut 2011 for Blue Bulls against Free State Cheetahs in Vodacom Cup
Provincial Caps 6
Provincial Points 15
Super Rugby Debut
Super Rugby Caps 0
Super Rugby Points 0
Test Debut
Test Caps 0
Test Points 0
William Small-Smith

William Small-Smith is a product of Fairlands Primary School, Grey College (Bloemfonein) and University of Pretoria (Tuks).

He represented the Golden Lions at the 2005 Under 13 Craven Week. He then went to Grey College in Bloemfontein, where he represented Free State Cheetahs at Under 16 and Under 18 levels between 2008 and 2010, during which time he was included in an Elite Squad, the SA Academy squad and a SA Under 18 High Performance squad.

He joined the Blue Bulls in 2011 and made his first class debut in the 2011 Vodacom Cup game against the Free State Cheetahs. He also made a further 14 appearances for the Under 19 team that season.

At the end of 2011, however, he linked up with the SA Sevens squad for three legs of the 2011–12 IRB Sevens World Series. He returned to represent the victorious SA Under 20 team in the 2012 IRB Junior World Championship.

Small-Smith also represented Tuks in the 2013 Varsity Cup, but picked up an injury prior to the final against Maties.

His playing career is as follows:

  • 2005 – Golden Lions – U13 Coca Cola Craven Week
  • 2008 – South Africa – U16 Elite Squads, Konika Minolta Free State – U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week
  • 2009 – Free State – U18 Academy Week, SA Academy – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, South Africa – SA U18 High Preformance SA Schools
  • 2010 – Free State – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, South Africa – SA U18 High Performance
  • 2011 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 19 Competition, South Africa – HSBC Sevens World Series in South Africa
  • 2012 – South Africa – HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo, South Africa – IRB Junior World Championship, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition
  • 2013 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, Tuks – Varsity Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division

William is highly talented and at outside centre in combination with Jan Serfontein could make a deadly combination, but to all intents and purposes he would likely behind JJ Engelbrecht in the pecking order for the No 13 (outside centre) berth.

 

Name: Johannes Jacobus “JJ” Engelbrecht:

Position Outside Centre / Wing
Height 1.90m
Weight 94kg
Date of Birth 22 February 1989
Place of Birth Port Elizabeth
Provincial Debut 2008 for Western Province
Provincial Caps 45
Provincial Points 115
Super Rugby Debut 2012 for Vodacom Bulls
Super Rugby Caps 33
Super Rugby Points 35
Test Debut 18 August 2012 vs Argentina in Cape Town
Test Caps 12
Test Points 20
JJ Engelbrecht

JJ Engelbrecht is a product of Kirkwood Primary School, Grey High School in Port Elizabeth and University of Stellenbosch (Maties).

He represented Eastern Province at the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Weekpreviously represented Western Province from Under 19 and Under 21 level, to Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup Premier Division level before making the move north along with team-mates Johann Sadie and Lionel Cronjé ahead of the 2012 Super Rugby season.

In 2012 he made his Super Rugby debut for the Vodacom Bulls and was also selected as a Springbok squad member or the June International Test window, but only made his Springbok debut on 18 August 2012 against Argentina in The Rugby Championship, coming on as a 70th minute replacement. He now already has 12 Test Caps to his name, mostly at No 13 (outside centre).

In 2013, he signed a contract extension to keep him at the Blue Bulls until 2016.

His playing career is as follows:

  • 2007 – Eastern Province – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week
  • 2008 – Vodacom Western Province – ABSA Under 19 Competition
  • 2009 – Western Province – Vodacom Cup, Maties – Varsity Cup, Vodacom Western Province – British & Irish Lions Tour, Vodacom Western Province – ABSA Currie Cup Compulsory Friendlies, Vodacom Western Province – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, Western Province – ABSA Under 21 Competition
  • 2010 – Western Province – Vodacom Cup, Vodacom Western Province – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, Western Province – ABSA Under 21 Competition
  • 2011 – DHL Western Province – Vodacom Cup, DHL Stormers – Vodacom Super Rugby, DHL Western Province – ABSA Currie Cup Compulsory Friendlies, DHL Western Province – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2012 – Vodacom Bulls – Vodacom Super Rugby, Springboks squad member – Castle Incoming Tours, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, Springboks – The Castle Rugby Championship
  • 2013 – Vodacom Bulls – Vodacom uper Rugby, Springboks – Castle Lager Incoming Series, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, Springboks The Rugby Championship, Springboks – Castle Lager Outgoing Tour

JJ Engelbrecht is virtually assured of a starting berth at the Bulls at No 13 (outside centre) but personally I have doubts about his defensive efforts at centre and would play him at right wing and not at centre.

 

Name: Waylon Michael “Waylon” Murray:

Position Centre
Height 1.905m
Weight 101kg
Date of Birth 27 April 1986
Place of Birth Durban
Provincial Debut 2005 for Sharks
Provincial Caps 86
Provincial Points 115
Super Rugby Debut 2006 for Sharks
Super Rugby Caps 63
Super Rugby Points 40
Test Debut 9 June 2007 vs Samoa in Johannesburg
Test Caps 3 PLUS 1 Tour match
Test Points 0
Waylon Murray

Waylon Murray is a product of Berea West Senior Primary School and Westville Boy’s High School and he has a qualification in Project Management.

During his debut season in the 2006 Currie Cup and Super 14 season for the Natal Sharks and Sharks, Murray showed great promise as a quality centre for his provincial team. Parlaying those performances into his debut Super 14 season in 2007, Murray slowly rose to prominence as one of South Africa’s leading centres, owing in no small part to his tenacity on defence and astute ball distribution skills, often with former provincial team-mate Brad Barritt, providing a valuable link to the wings and offering stability to The Sharks midfield.

Murray’s stunning form saw him being selected for the Springboks away leg of the 2007 Tri Nations where he played in his 3 Tests to date (However he was only selected as the first choice centres were being rested for the World Cup.) The Murray and Barrit partnership was however disrupted after François Steyn’s superb performances in the No 12 jersey for the Springboks during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. This meant that Murray had to challenge Barrit for the No 13 shirt during much of the 2008 Super 14 season, but the partnership resumed during the ABSA Currie Cup due to the absence of François Steyn and Adi Jacobs. However, with the return of the Springboks, and with Adi Jacobs’ stunning form, Murray saw little game time.

Murray was injured during the whole of the 2009 Super 14, and slowly began to be exposed to rugby during the Currie Cup, after a 7 month absence.

On 7 June 2010, the Sharks agreed to release him from his contract so he could join the Lions.

At the end of 2012, his Lions contract expired and he joined the Eastern Province Kings, also being named in the Southern Kings wider training group for the 2013 Super Rugby season. However, having recently undergone knee surgery, he was struggling for full fitness for a large part of the campaign and made just 4 starts and 3 replacement appearances during the 2013 Super Rugby season. He also played in the second leg of the Southern Kings Promotion / Relegation play-off’s series against the MTN Lions. He also made 1 appearance in the 2013 Vodacom Cup for the EP Kings, appearing as a replacement in their match against the Border Bulldogs.

After the 2013 Super Rugby season, he joined the Blue Bulls, signing a contract at the team until October 2015.

A big and powerful centre, Murray has the tendancy to run sideways at times in stead of forward, killing all available space on his outside.

His playing career is as follows:

  • 2004 – KZN – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week
  • 2005 – The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Qualifying Round, Natal – SA Under 19 Competition, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2006 – Sharks – Vodacom Super 14, Wildebeest – Vodacom Cup, South Africa – IRB Under 21 World Championship, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2007 – Springboks squad member – World Cup warm-up matches, Sharks – Vodacom Super 14, Wildebeest – Vodacom Cup, Springboks squad member – Vodacom Incoming Tours, Springboks – Vodacom Tri-Nations, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2008 – Sharks – Vodacom Super 14, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Compulsory Friendlies, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2009 – Sharks XV – Vodacom Cup, Sharks – Vodacom Super 14, The Sharks – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2010 – Sharks – Vodacom Super 14, Sharks XV – Vodacom Cup, Lions – ABSA Currie Cup Compulsory Friendlies, Xerox Lions – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2011 – MTN Lions – Vodacom Super Rugby, MTN Golden Lions – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2012 – MTN Lions – Vodacom Super Rugby, MTN Golden Lions – Vodacom Cup, MTN Golden Lions – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2013 – EP Kings – Vodacom Cup, Southern Kings – Vodacom Super Rugby, EP Kings – ABSA Currie Cup First Division, Southern Kings – Super Rugby Promotion / Relegation, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division

Waylon Murray might be a bench option for the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

 

Name: Ulrich Beyers:

Position Centre / Fullback
Height 1.90m
Weight 100kg
Date of Birth 22 January 1991
Place of Birth Pretoria
Provincial Debut 2011 – for Vodacom Blue Bulls in Vodacom Cup
Provincial Caps 27
Provincial Points 20
Super Rugby Debut 2013 for Vodacom Bulls
Super Rugby Caps 2
Super Rugby Points 0
Test Debut
Test Caps 0
Test Points 0
Ulrich Beyers

Ulrich Beyers is a product of Pongola Academy and Ermelo High School.

He started his career at the Pumas in 2007 at the Under 16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week and also played for the Pumas in 2008 and 2009 at the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week.

In 2010 he played for Western Province in the ABSA Under 19 Competition before moving to the Blue Bulls from 2011.

He made his senior debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in 2011 and also represented South Africa at the IRB Junior World Championships before playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Under 21 level.

In 2012 he played Vodacom Cup, Under 21 and ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division rugby for the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

In 2013 he started playing Vodacom Cup rugby before playing 2 Super Rugby games for the Vodacom Bulls and also once again played Currie Cup Premier Division rugby for the young Vodacom Blue Bulls side.

His playing career is as follows:

  • 2007 – Pumas – U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week
  • 2008 – Pumas – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week
  • 2009 – Pumas – U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week
  • 2010 – Western Province – ABSA Under 19 Competition
  • 2011 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, South Africa – IRB Junior World Championships, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition
  • 2012 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Under 21 Competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division
  • 2013 – Vodacom Blue Bulls – Vodacom Cup, Vodacom Bulls – Vodacom Super Rugby, Vodacom Blue Bulls – ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division

Ulrich Beyers is somewhat of a utility back and is listed as such at the Bulls and could maybe rather see fullback game time than centre game time. We list him as a centre option due to the fact that the Bulls have various options at fullback.

 

Starters:

The Bulls should start with Jan serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht as the starting centre pairing, with William Small-Smith on the bench. That would not have been my choice though and I would have played Jan Serfontein at No 12 (inside centre), with William Small-Smith at No 13 (outside centre) and I would have utilised JJ Engelbreht on the right wing, to only move to outside centre in case of replacement needs or injury, seeing as Akona Ndungane is getting extremely long in the tooth at right wing and the other right wing candidates a bit light on experience.

 

The next Article in the range will deal with the Bulls Back Three.

5 Responses to Super Rugby 2014: Bulls – Squad Contenders – Midfield

  • 1

    Not shabby for the Bulls at all at centre, 3 Springboks and William small-Smith might become a Bok one day…. not shabby at all.

  • 2

    A very dynamic group. Now the question is if the Bulls 10 will actually pass the ball to them or just kick it away aimlessly?

  • 3

    Die beste jong buite senter in Die land moet op Die bench sit sodat n vleul kan senter probeer speel…. Only in sa

  • 4

    The Bulls should start with Jan serfontein and JJ Engelbrecht as the starting centre pairing, with William Small-Smith on the bench. That would not have been my choice though and I would have played Jan Serfontein at No 12 (inside centre), with William Small-Smith at No 13 (outside centre) and I would have utilised JJ Engelbreht on the right wing, to only move to outside centre in case of replacement needs or injury, seeing as Akona Ndungane is getting extremely long in the tooth at right wing and the other right wing candidates a bit light on experience.

    ^^
    This

  • 5

    I have to agree. JJ is good, but he is not the answer for the Boks at inside center. If we look at the bigger picture the ideal backline for the boks with younger players in for the next WC should look like this.
    9 – Piet van Zyl, Louis Shreuder
    10 – Catrakilis
    11 – Klobe
    12 – JDV
    13 – W Small-Smith
    14 – JJ
    15 – Le Roux

    This will make for a good attacking and pretty effective defensive backline. I just can not understand why players aren’t groomed any more. We rely on players way past their due dates and then have no replacements. The Bulls have this problem at no10 this season. The Cheethas at 12 and 13 same with the Stormers on wing.


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