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BullsWilliam Small-SmithVictor MatfieldJono RossJacques du PlessisGrant HattinghThe Vodacom Bulls have made known, through their official Facebook Page, the names of the team to take on the Highlanders on Friday 11 April 2014.

As expected after the injuries to Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann, who both have had to return to South Africa as a result of longer term injuries, Grant Hattingh gets the nod at No 8, with Jono Ross selected at openside flank (No 6) and with Jacques du Plessis at blindside flank (No 7).

Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht reverts to the bench.

As we’ve seen in the opening rounds of this year’s competition, Jono Ross struggles to fullfill the role of openside flanker and it might have been far more prudent to include either Wiaan Liebenberg or Wimpie van der Walt in this crucial position, to give the Bulls looseforward combination the vital balance required in the loosies.

Victor Matfield also returns to the starting lineup at No 5 lock, despite initial indications that he is on tour only as lock injury backup. Flip van der Merwe moves to No 4 lock and retains the captaincy, whilst Paul Willemse is relegated to the bench.

Good news for a lot of Bulls supporters is that William Small-Smith is included on the bench as utility back.

 

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 J J Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (Captain), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel vd Merwe, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 William Small-Smith, 23 Morné Mellet.

Coach: Frans Ludeke
Team manager: Tim Dlulane

 

Date: Friday 11 April
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-Off: 09: 35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

34 Responses to Super Rugby: Bulls forced to re-shuffle loosies & Big Vic returns at No 5

  • 1

    Unbalanced loosies for the Bulls again!

    I will repeat what I say about Jono Ross, he is NO OPENSIDER!

    I am glad Victor Matfield is back and I am also glad William Small-Smith is on the bench.

  • 2

    Not convinced about that loose trio. Stegman is a massive loss but surely they could have played a youngster at 6 with Ross at his preferred 8 position?

  • 3

    Sorry to say but this takes back to 5 weeks ago and we saw what happened them with Ross at 6

  • 4

    This team is still good enough to grind out a win against the Landers.
    Forwards must just achieve parity, they stood up well in defense against the Canes, Highlanders are more forward orientated, similar to the SA sides.
    Hougaard is going to have to put up his hand, Aaron Smith is better than the average nr 9. That reserve scrumhalf of the Bulls must stop making kak when he comes on the field though
    Think the Bulls will win this one.

  • 5

    11:51 @ nortierd:
    If history repeats itself, the Bulls will defnately lose this game, they are notoriously poor on tour in the 2nd match on tour.

    THe Highlanders also seem to be somewhat of a bogey team for the Bulls in New Zealand for some or other reason… I’m not exactly sure how many times the Bulls have lost against the Landers in New Zealand in recent years, but seem to recall that they always manage to beat the Bulls in New Zealand.

    Considering that the Bulls lost their 1st tour game and considering that the Highlanders also lost last weekend, the favourites would have to be the home team, as results in 2014 have gone heavily in favour of the home sides (except this bloody past weekend in SA of course).

  • 6

    @GBS
    Conventional wisdom counted for something in previous years, but 2014 has been completely topsy turvy and any “sure thing” games has certainly come back to bite those going for the favorites.
    The Force is an example of how to stuff up a SuperBru weekend, and they are not the only side throwing some curve balls.
    All I’m saying is that this Bull side is more than good enough to beat the Highlanders.

  • 7

    I back us to win this, with Small smith on the bench its likely hougie will also get a much needed break for 20 odd minutes and not move to the wing and it could be JJ, but then again JJ has also played about every match.

    The dangermen will be Asmith, fakitua and b.Smith in the backline, The Lam guy was frikken brilliant for the Canes, We will have to turn it around this week, A.Smith is going to pepper us with high balls, good thing so far that Basson and Visser is slowly gaining some excellent form.

    I am also worried about Ross, but his stats have been good this year, but it is up to our forwards to get some ball retention going, guys like flip and paul who will play the second half, we will miss Steggies, but we will really miss Potgieter.

    Glad to see JLP is back, he played the last game through some serious pain, but some massaging and acupuncturist will have him ready for Friday.

  • 8

    12:01 @ grootblousmile:
    That depends how far they look back at history, 12 years ago we were poor pretty much everywhere even at home. And I know they have this mindset, and Matfield wrote about it in his book how hard this is, but the way these guys can come back every season even in the pre season where everyone tells them how useless they will be all year must count for something.

    Home team will obviously be the favorites and they might even give us a hiding, but they will need to be at their best.

  • 9

    If you can beat the Sharks this year, you can beat anyone

  • 10

    JJ needs to come to party, his defense has been shocking and distribution/straightening line not much better. Put in Smith and Pollard and shock Highlanders by running at them. Loosies a problem we can’t kick away possession ’cause we wont get turnover.

  • 11

    18:57 @ Best:
    I agree with your sentiments regarding JJ Engelbrecht.

    He fails at outside centre, mainly due to the fact that he comes out of the defensive lines at the wrong times, and then he fails and / or is unable to defend that channell to the fullest.

    Wing suits his style and his defensive vulnerabilities, where he has more time to adapt to the defensive structures.

    I also hope Willian Small-Smith gets some time next to Jan Serfontein to show what the pair is capable of in Super Rugby terms.

    Bulls would have to seriously consider changing their style of play to a more possession-oriented game, in the absense of Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter. One way of doing it is to play a bit closer around the scrums and breakdown situations, so that non-genuine fetchers like Jono Ross and Grant Hattingh can get to the ball faster and easier.

    I would have opted for Wimpie van der Walt or Wiaan Liebenberg in the place of Jono Ross at openside, seeing as those 2 are genuine opensiders, who play towards the ball. One of these 2 would have given the Bulls much better balance in the loosies as a combo.

  • 12

    Best wrote:

    JJ needs to come to party, his defense has been shocking and distribution/straightening line not much better. Put in Smith and Pollard and shock Highlanders by running at them. Loosies a problem we can’t kick away possession ’cause we wont get turnover.

    huh?

    JJ has had his problems in defense i agree, but against the Hurricanes he was one of our top defenders, what else must he do? No one else would have defended better, I agree his distribution is lacking so far this year.

    We can only hope he keeps it up for now.

    People are extremely focused on his defense, his tackle completion is 63 out of 66 tackes, while Jan Serfontein has been worse in defense this year (54 out of 64), Johan Goosen has been crap (42 out of 56) even Frans Steyn as not been that great (44 out of 55).

  • 13

    Dont get me wrong, his does jump out of the line, but people tend to focus on this that happens once or twice a game.

    The problem is he is not so dangerous this year and probably misses Mornes distribution (yep i said it). JLP will never be that kind of flyhalf, he will always be a warrior thats consistant without being exceptional, and I was happy with that when we signed him, thats what the Bulls needed to get some stability after the nightmare Tjarks game.

  • 14

    19:26 @ MacroBull:
    When a defensive player moves out of the defensive line, eg. Jumping out in front of the defensive line, he inevitably leaves the players on his inside and outside (particularly on his inside – Jan Serfontein) very vulnerable on defence…

    Let me explain:

    1. There is now an added gap to defend by the suddenly vulnerable defender and there is suddenly more space for the attacker to work with to deceive the vulnerable defender.
    2. As that vulnerable defender you have no choice but to concentrate on defence to your ouside shoulder (where that gap has now opened up).
    3. Focussing on defence on one side and not a balanced defence left and right, makes it easier for an attacker to step inwards, to pass the vulnerable defender on his inside shoulder, thus creating the impression that the vulnerable defender is indeed weaker and can (and will) be beaten.

    So, is the vulnerable defender to blame or is the player who jumps the line to blame?

    The answer is easy, the person who jumped the line, caused the weakness in the defensive pattern… therefore he is largely to blame.

  • 15

    @ grootblousmile:
    Jan’s defensive problems originate because he goes too high in tackles, hougaard suffers from the same problem and they get bounced off, surely this is not JJ’s fault?

    All I am saying is JJ and Jan has imrpoved every game, probably not fast enough, but even Conrad Smith suffers from these same problems, as well as JDV, who both like to break the defensive line.

    I like Small Smith and I cincerely hope he gets gametime this weekend and JJ moves to wing, BUT if JJ gets some attacking rythm going, that the Bulls have been progressively building up to, he and Jan can cause Havoc.

  • 16

    Thus the positives outweigh the negatives, JJ was outside center last year and he was always a threat. As South Africans we tend to overlook the overall gains of a player merely due to their defense, De Wett Barry played 38 test for the boks…because he could tackle and run crash balls? What else could he do?

    The bulls forwards needs to get some continuity and not lose the ball every third ruck, then our back line will gain more confidence to play around a bit more and also kick less.

  • 17

    19:52 @ MacroBull:
    I’ll have a specific look at how high Jan Serfontein attempts to tackle, but I expect you to look for that “Jumping the line” by JJ and the full ramifiations it has on the defenders around him.

    Deal?

  • 18

    @ grootblousmile:
    Well I don’t deny JJ does it as in post 19:26, i just think people are extremely focused on it, so when it happens, people are like “well there he goes again”.

    We were told the Aussies and Kiwis are going to run us ragged because JJ is so pathetic, yet it was guys like Alberts, beast etc.

  • 19

    … that miss vital tackles

  • 20

    20:13 @ MacroBull:
    I appreciate and realize that you know that JJ sometimes jumps the defensive line, as you rightly indicated before my previous reply..

    I am asking you to have a look at the resultant effects of him jumping the line, leaving others and defence in general vulnerable.

    Look, I like JJ Engelbrecht, I just think he is better suited to right wing.

    Similarly I do not think Jan Serfontein is faultless…

    Let’s move the JJ & Jan question aside for a moment…

    I think the Bulls have bigger issues, like not selecting a balanced loosie combo, which impacts heavily on the breakdown battle AND like kicking too many balls to the opposition to counter with.

  • 21

    Ross is their best Loose forward, he also the Bulls’ most intelligent forward
    And the Highest scorer too
    ;)

  • 22

    @ grootblousmile:
    Well that’s a pointless debate … We both agree
    Luigi Super Mario Bros Mario Super Mario Bros

  • 23

    @ Hondo:
    At 8th man

  • 24

    One thing that we should be very good at is the lineouts with Maestro Matfield back alongside two other locks in that starting line up and really tall flanker in du Plessis, should give us plenty of options front middle and back of lineout both on our own throw and in disrupting the Highlanders lineouts, I guess the trick will be too not make things too complicated and get confusion between the jumpers and thrower and of course Callie Visagie will have to get his throwing in spot on. With this in mind would expect, for at least the first 60 min that we should play to this strength and keep Highlanders penned back deep in their territory with good long kicks OUT TO TOUCH not straight down their throats for them to counterattack with, even if they get possesion back by getting to throw in we should be able to nick some of their lineouts and at these time the ball needs to go through the hands quickly and see if we can run in some tries or get the strong maul going and try breach their line like that.

  • 25

    Also glad to see William Small Smith in the line up, hopefully he gets long enough time on the field to show what he is capable of at this level.

  • 26

    @ MacroBull:
    Right!
    I would say at 7 (blind side) too
    Stegmann and Potgieter stayed too long on the field, both injury prone, Stegmann has no replacement at the open side in the Bulls squad
    The wisdom of letting Stander go was hardly ever debated in Pta, now it’s too late

  • 27

    @ Bullscot:
    Sound like a plan, two concerns though;
    1. The reserve hooker is hopeless, keeping him on the field against NZ teams is like handing the match back to them
    2. Quick throws ins: all NZ teams practice the counter attack against the Bulls and the Sharks where vulnerability of the back three is well known and Visser cannot cover for both the clown wings, we saw that too :(

  • 28

    @ Hondo:
    Stegmann was on the field for 10 minutes :/

    No one denies Stander going was a big loss, but it was also his choice to go.

    I hope Mallet picks him for the “world xv”.

  • 29

    @ Hondo: Agree with Bullscot, we need to stop giving ball away with deep kicks that NZ/Aus teams can counter attack from. With Matfield back will be better to kick shorter distance but prevent quick throw in. Would also love to see Pollard getting more game time, with our current backline we need a more attacking flyhalf. Stegman is huge loss and combined with Dewalds loss, intelligent enough to provide cover in all three back-row positions, Bulls have real problem.

  • 30

    Bullscot wrote:

    One thing that we should be very good at is the lineouts with Maestro Matfield back alongside two other locks in that starting line up and really tall flanker in du Plessis, should give us plenty of options front middle and back of lineout both on our own throw and in disrupting the Highlanders lineouts, I guess the trick will be too not make things too complicated and get confusion between the jumpers and thrower and of course Callie Visagie will have to get his throwing in spot on. With this in mind would expect, for at least the first 60 min that we should play to this strength and keep Highlanders penned back deep in their territory with good long kicks OUT TO TOUCH not straight down their throats for them to counterattack with, even if they get possesion back by getting to throw in we should be able to nick some of their lineouts and at these time the ball needs to go through the hands quickly and see if we can run in some tries or get the strong maul going and try breach their line like that.

    But we will kick center field, thats just how the Bulls play, this has been their recipe for success for years now and it wont change. The strategy is to kick downfield as far as possible, and trusting the defensive line, I just dont see this changing for the foreseeable future. The key is to try and direct more at space, against the Canes we kicked the ball at a low angle, and it did not work too bad. Winning the ball back without a key player like Stegmann could jeopardize this game plan, but we have seen for years, that as a South African team there is no patience to run from inside our own half, when it is on they will try go for it, if you look at a few well worked tries so far this year.

    The Sharks will kick down field, the Bulls will kick downfield… The Cheetahs did that last year, but are trying to be more adventurous again this year (and you see how well that works out) and the Stormers will kick downfield, with the laws regarding the 22 it is not so easy to just go for touch, if the Bulls could they would.

  • 31

    BUT we need to work on our ball retention, if we are going to lose the ball after about every 3 ruck, we might as well just kick.

  • 32

    @ Best:
    I would also like Pollard to get more game time and some more flair in our backline.

    But come on, it’s Bulls rugby, it is absolutely crucial that we (as well as pretty much every other team) needs an 80%+ kicker to be successful, Pollard just does not give us that at this stage.

  • 33

    @ MacroBull: Jacque LP kept us in game against Chiefs with kicks but that reliance was also our downfall. Two seasons ago against Brumbies in semi-final was same story. Bulls leading, rely on kicker to defend lead rather than attack try-line and force opposition into more defensive mode. Dewald was right to keep going for try on that occasion but instruction from coaches allowed Brumbies back into our danger zone. Bulls have bought strong attacking backline and must start using that to make teams re-think their strategy against us. Currently teams will give away the three points if they believe they can return favour with seven. If we up our try scoring percentage when in opposition twenty five we can do with less accurate goal kicker. Also the more Pollard kicks the better his stats will get.

  • 34

    Best wrote:

    @ MacroBull: Two seasons ago against Brumbies in semi-final was same story. Bulls leading, rely on kicker to defend lead rather than attack try-line and force opposition into more defensive mode. Dewald was right to keep going for try on that occasion but instruction from coaches allowed Brumbies back into our danger zone.

    Woha what? I Agree Dewald was doing to right thing, but it was not just to coaching staff that wanted the kick at goal it was ALSO 50 000 people and 14 of his team mates on the field.

    Best wrote:

    @ MacroBull: Also the more Pollard kicks the better his stats will get.

    I am not knocking Pollard down, I sincerely believe he is a great long term investment, but he kicked most of the currie cup and did not improve, staurday he also missed a sitter.

    Above all we need a 80%+ kicker to be successful, this is not a hidden secret in superrugby.

    We should not be brainwashed by other supporter about our “conservative, skop en jaag gameplan” and that we should play more attacking rugby.

    Everyone else does it, just when we play to our game plan we well, we are unstoppable and we score plenty of tries.


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