The Vodacom Bulls, who have been struggling in the first two Rounds of Super Rugby in 2014 are reportedly hunting the services of Dewald Potgieter, who is currently playing his rugby in the Japanese league and also the services of Juan Smith, who is playing his rugby at Toulon in France.
In the meantime, Frans Ludeke is still adament that backing Louis Fouché is the right thing to do, despite Louis Fouché being dropped from this weekend’s match-day 23.
The Bulls are keen to lure former captain Dewald Potgieter back to Pretoria and have also shown interest in former Springbok flank Juan Smith.
Potgieter left the Bulls last year to play for Japanese club, Yamaha Jubilo, but according to reports, the 27-year-old could return to take part in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Bulls currently have three loose forwards sidelined.
Pierre Spies (arm) and Arno Botha (knee) have long-term injuries, while Deon Stegmann saw a specialist on Tuesday about a troublesome groin injury which has kept him sidelined for over a month.
The Bulls’ High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, said they are in “advanced talks” with Potgieter’s club regarding a possible move.
Janse van Rensburg said they are also trying to lure former Cheetahs captain Smith to Pretoria.
Smith, 32, has resurrected his career playing for French club Toulon and seems to be in hot pursuit all over the world.
Should the Bulls manage to attain Smith’s services, it’s likely to only be for the Currie Cup season.
Smith’s agent, Stephan Weyers, said his contract with Toulon expires at the end of June.
“Toulon want to keep Juan in France and have already made a new offer. There is also interest out of Japan and a few other teams.
“He is playing top rugby again and has played over 1 000 minutes injury-free, which makes him hot property overseas.”
Keeping the faith in Fouché:
SuperSport reports that Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke defended the dropping of flyhalf Louis Fouche from the squad to face the Lions in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, saying the decision to elevate Jacques-Louis Potgieter from outside the squad was because he was “on form.”
Potgieter leap-frogged prodigy Handre Pollard as well as he was included in the starting line-up on Wednesday, and while the decision may well spell the end of Fouche’s hopes for the meantime, relegating him to third spot in the flyhalf race, it is also a lease of life for Potgieter, who re-joined the Bulls from Bayonne last month.
Potgieter put in an excellent performance in Polokwane in the pre-season game against the Stormers and followed it up with an impressive 20 points against the Cheetahs’ Vodacom Cup team in the curtain-raiser to last Friday night’s Super Rugby loss.
But Fouche, who has shown poor form in the Bulls’ opening two losses, seemingly is the scapegoat for the defeats, with Ludeke saying he decided to rather go with the in-form flyhalf.
“It’s a tough decision. It’s almost a better decision for Louis, if you think about it. He’s a talented player, but we decided on the old head – the guy who is on song. He played in Polokwane and he played well in the curtain-raiser in Bloemfontein. He’s out from a season in France where he played until the weekend before he joined us,” Ludeke said.
“He’s on, if you could call it that. You compare that to Handre (Pollard) and Louis is coming back from an injury, and we were satisfied with his preparation. We backed him, we believe he has a special talent and at the moment we decided to go for someone who has an old head, and whose game is on. We pulled Louis a bit back, we will work with him to get his confidence back.
“It’s small things – his overall game was fantastic. His kicking accuracy was 74% with all his kicks, it was just that his goalkicks were off on the night. If you look at the weekend’s games, the goalkicking percentage across all teams was 50%. But goalkicking is vital, especially in the beginning of the competition where there are a lot of penalties and teams don’t have their rhythm right. If you have a good goalkicker you can get momentum in a game quickly.”
Ludeke did defend Fouche though, saying he needed to find his confidence again, but that he was far from finished. Ludeke said the team management still backed Fouche “100%”
“Louis had a fantastic Currie Cup in 2012. He was our Currie Cup player of the year back then. In 2013, he had two Super Rugby games and then he picked up an injury that kept him out for the whole year.
“There is nothing wrong with his ability, he is a quality flyhalf and we need him. He could still be the guy who does something special for us at a vital stage of the season. You can’t coach that sort of talent and he has what it takes.
“He came back from an injury perhaps too soon and I will take responsibility for that. Perhaps we should have been a bit more conservative in our approach, and managed his comeback better from our point of view – a knee operation, especially for a kicker, is a massive operation.
“We back him 100%, he is still in our system and we need him. If you ask how does he come back, well, if there is an injury then he will be back, and the Vodacom Cup is also there for him to get his form back.”