The Vodacom Bulls:
Name: Dean MacGyver Greyling “Wors”:
A year ago Greyling was a back-up prop to Gurthrö Steenkamp at the Bulls, but with the latter now in Toulouse and missing most of last season due to a broken arm, Greyling used that opportunity to cast his own shadow. Powerful with ball in hand and very strong in the scrum, he impressed all in 2011 and made a lasting impression when called upon for test match duty.
Dean ‘MacGyver’ Greyling was one of the stars of the 2004 Craven Week competition and has now firmly 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 15 and was selected to start at loosehead prop for the Springboks on their Tri- Nations tour against Australia and New Zealand.
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.
- 2011: Blue Bulls (Super Rugby & Springbok)
- 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)
He will be a contender again for a Springbok berth as loosehead prop in 2012.
Greyling is a strong scrummager but is also a very hard strike runner and is a very busy player in the loose and at ruck and maul time. Expecting a big year from the “Wors”.
Kruger has improved season upon season and his call-up to the Springbok test side in 2011 was no surprise. 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 sound basics, with his greatest asset the ability to deliver five star performances week in and week out.
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, as Werner Kruger will justify all those names allocated to him at Super Rugby level.
Kruger’s contribution does not finish with scrumming. He is solid on defense and often enough tops the stats with cleans at the ruck and his support play at line-out time is 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.”
Once again Werner will be in serious contention for Springbok selection in 2012.
After some time away from the game recovering from a neck operation and university studies, Kirsten is finally ready for rugby on the big stage. A fantastic athlete who can run most backs ragged, the former national age group player will add depth and brains to the Bulls pack. He is versatile and plays both sides of the scrum, making 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.
Some of the rugby scribes I share the Press Box with at Loftus rates Frik as having huge potential… may this be a year that he proves them right!
Rossouw de Klerk:
When called into the senior ranks as a junior prop De Klerk responded so well, he can boast a Currie Cup and Super Rugby medal already. He will push for a starting place in 2012, after playing almost exclusively off the bench in Super Rugby last season. A mobile player with great technique and aptitude for his position, De Klerk has a long and distinguished career ahead of him at this level.
He is a Tighthead prop and will miss the start of the 2012 Super Rugby season due to having undergone a foot-operation, late in 2011, resulting from an injury sustained in the 2011 Currie Cup competition.
Schooled across the road from Loftus Versfeld at Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies), Steyn has serious rugby dreams, which includes playing for the Bulls regularly and commanding a starting berth. He took a detour to the neighbouring Pumas side and has had some impressive performances in his 50 Currie Cup appearances for them, which resulted in him getting back where he wants to be at the Bulls. He gave some of the foremost Currie Cup and Super Rugby props a very hard time in 2011. Expect big things from this powerhouse in his first season of Super Rugby.
He signed a two-year contract with the Blue Bulls, late 2011 and will play for the Bulls in 2012 and 2013.
Steyn also attended the University of Pretoria, where he played Super Bowl rugby. He represented the Blue Bulls amateur side before embarking on a professional rugby career at the Pumas in 2008.
Frans Ludeke, the Bulls’ Super Rugby coach, said he was impressed by Steyn’s performances in recent seasons and feels that Dawie will add vital depth to the Bulls front row. He has all the attributes associated with Bulls front rowers and should add real value to their effort.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with their two frontline props, who are both recent Springboks, Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger. There is no reason why it should be different either, these two players have anchored the Bulls scrums with distinction and will be difficult to contain, even by the strongest scrummagers in Super Rugby.
There is no reason why the Bulls scrum, with these props anchoring their scrum should not be right up there in the quality stakes.
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, and this year should be no different.
Name: Mahlatse “Chiliboy: Ralepelle
After a full season of Super Rugby in 2011, South Africans finally understood the hype that surrounded Ralepelle as a star at junior levels. Injuries seem to be a thing of the past and the well-spoken player is revelling because of that. Immensely strong in the scrums and deceptively quick in open play, Ralepelle will be keen to establish himself as the foremost hooker in the country.
He made his Bulls and Springboks debut in the same year. Indeed, just a few months after making his debut for his province in 2006, he won his first international cap as a replacement at his home ground at Loftus Versfeld. However, despite his rapid ascent up the rugby ladder, he could not force his way into the World Cup squad the following year.
In 2008, though, he was named on the tour of the UK and Ireland and made history when he became the youngest and the first black player to captain the Springboks when they met the World XV at Walkers Stadium in Leicester.
The following year he was named in the South Africa squad to play the British & Irish Lions and he started the third Test in Johannesburg, which resulted in a 28-9 defeat for the home side.
Ralepelle was included in the Springbok squad for their end-of-year tour of Great Britain and Ireland in 2010 but both he and Bjorn Basson were sent home after testing positive for a banned stimulant following the victory over Ireland in Dublin. Both players were immediately suspended from all rugby pending further investigation.
Name: Willie Wepener
Wepener is one of the real warriors in the game and after an impressive Super 14 season with the Lions in 2009, was scouted by French champions Clermont for their Top 14 and Heineken Cup campaigns. Aggressive, mobile and with a high work rate, Wepener will be in demand everywhere and it was no surprise to see the Bulls jumping at the chance to bring the veteran hooker back to South Africa.
Willie is solid enough as a Super Rugby player but all indications are that he’ll play second fiddle to Chiliboy Ralepelle in the battle for a starting berth.
Springbok prospects for Willie Wepener is hardly likely, there are just too many quality hookers in South Africa ahead of him in the queue for that to happen. His experience in Super Rugby and in the hard forward-oriented battles in the Northern Hemisphere for Clermont will stand the Bulls in good stead in the coming months.
Name: Bongi Mbonambi
The youngster, who has distinguished himself in the SA U/20 squad in recent months and before that for 2 years at SA Schools level is yet to play a senior provincial game.
It is clear which way the career of this Eastern Free State born player is heading. Very strong and mobile with a low centre of gravity, Mbonambi could be the surprise package of the season.
The players named and described above does not include the regular Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup hookers or the Blue Bulls U/21 hookers, but as I’ve said before, I will limit discussion to players who WILL feature in Super Rugby in 2012.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with Chiliboy Ralepelle, with Willie Wepener on the bench.
Name: Phillip Rudolph (Flip) van der Merwe
He was always compared to Bakkies Botha, but with the veteran Bok gone, it is time for Van der Merwe to build his own legacy. The big man should enjoy the responsibility of being the hard man in the side and the go to man for breaching the advantage line, setting up drives and putting pressure on the opposing scrum. Much of the tight five will revolve around Van der Merwe.
In June 2010 he was selected to represent the Springboks, for the June 12 test against France. In 2009, van der Merwe was recruited by the Blue Bulls. Prior to joining the Blue Bulls, van der Merwe played his rugby for the Cheetahs. His father Flippie won six caps for South Africa from 1981 to 1989.
This is the year where Flip has to kick on and make the Springbok No 4 lock position his own.
Name: Petrus Johannes Juandre (Juandre) Kruger
After kicking his heels during Super Rugby in 2011, expect Juandré Kruger to make the most of his opportunities this year. The athletic lock forward has impressed in Currie Cup 2011 with his ball carrying ability and line-out play, but is not afraid to mix it up in the tight stuff, as witnessed during his two years spent with Northampton Saints in the English Premiership and Heineken Cup.
He is widely regarded as one of the best up and coming second row forwards prospect in South African rugby.He started his career off at Western Province, representing them in the 2007 Vodacom Cup. From there he moved to the Blue Bulls, competing for them in the 2008 Vodacom Cup. He also featured for the Blue Bulls in the 2008 Currie Cup, at times being preferred to Springbok internationals Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.Kruger was an unused replacement in the Final of the 2008 Currie Cup, against the Natal Sharks.
Kruger then made the move to Northampton Saints. He enjoyed a successful partnership with Fernando Lobbe. In his first season at the club, he won the ECC.In his second and final season, he featured in the Heineken Cup,played in a Guinness Premiership Semi Finaland won the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
Kruger re-joined the Blue Bulls in 2010.
This year, alongside Andries Bekker he is touted to be the contenders to take over from Victor Matfield as the No 5 lock for the Springboks.
2011: Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup & Currie Cup)
2010: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Northampton Saints (Guinness Premiership)
2009: Northampton Saints (Guinness Premiership)
2008: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
2007: Western Province (Currie Cup Premier Division), Western Province (Vodacom Cup)
2006: Western Province (Vodacom Cup), Western Province (Under-21)
2005: Western Province (Under-21)
2004: Western Province (Under-20)
Name: Ojiambo Daniel (Daniel) Adongo
The 22 year old Kenyan player has been a member of the Sharks Academy in recent years and has represented the Sharks at u.19, u.21 and Vodacom Cup level, playing in all 10 of the Sharks XV matches in 2011, scoring three tries. He was also part of the Sharks Super Rugby team that played in a pre-season tournament against the Stormers and Lions in Cape Town last year. The Nairobi born player is equally adept playing at lock or loose forward and with his express pace, also played wing for the Sharks in age group rugby.
This rising Kenyan star is fast becoming a sensation in the South African firmament. Although he is unsung in his motherland, Adongo’s fledgling rugby career is growing by leaps and bounds, and he is bound to become a familiar name in international rugby circles.
He apparently bench presses 160 kg and has timed 4.88 seconds over 40 metres. His build and skill make for a player destined for international rugby.
“I have considered playing for Kenya, but I would like to play for South Africa (Springboks) which I strongly believe I can do. There is still a lot of work to be done on and off the field,” he said.
All I can add is that he has muscles in places even Pierre Spies has’nt got places!
Name: Jabez Wilhelmus Arnoldus (Wilhelm) Steenkamp
After stints with the Sharks (on loan) in 2010 and the Cheetahs in 2011, Steenkamp will be keen to use those added experiences upon his return to the Bulls set-up. A solid, reliable lock forward who always gives 110%, the Bulls pack will leave nothing out there if Steenkamp, who also captained the Cheetahs at times, has his way. Already an Emerging Springbok, Steenkamp will be motivated by a possible Bok call-up in 2012.
Wilhelm Steenkamp made his mark with the Bulls in the during the 2008 Super 14 season – filling in for Victor Matfield while the Springbok legend was playing in France.
Steenkamp is a fantastic lineout specialist and a player who has been tipped to go on to big things in the future. He is also highly respected as a leader.
2011: Cheetahs (Super Rugby)
2010: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), The Sharks (Vodacom Super 14)
2009: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Emerging Springboks (British & Irish Lions Tour), Bulls (Super 14)
2008: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), Bulls (Super 14)
2007: Blue Bulls (Currie Cup Premier Division), SA Emerging (IRB Nations Cup), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Bulls (Super 14)
2006: South Africa (IRB Under-21), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup), Blue Bulls (Under- 21)
2005: Blue Bulls (Under-21), Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup)
2004: Blue Bulls (Under-20)
Name: Gerrit-Jan van Velze
Van Velze is a re-treaded No 8, used at the end of last year in the Currie Cup almost exclusively as a No 4 lock. The planning then and now is for the Blue Bulls and Bulls to find suitable replacements for the fact that Bakkies Botha has left South Africa to go play at Toulon in France.
Van Velze, an IRB Under-19 player of the year nominee and former SA Schools captain, has become an integral part of the Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad and is set to move up to the Super Rugby squad this year.
Gerrit-Jan announced the signing of himself with the Blue Bulls again on Twitter, saying: “Proud to say that I’ve signed a new 2 year deal @ the bulls!!!”
The Bulls would have also had the services of Mtunzi (Fudge) Mabeta for this season had it not been for an injury to Mabeta which will keep him out of the whole Super Rugby competition in 2012.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with Flip van der Merwe at No 4 lock, with Juandre Kruger set to fill the No 5 lock spot and of course with the experienced Wilhelm Steenkamp on the bench.
Name: Gideon Johannes (Deon) Stegmann
Quietly going about his business at the breakdown, Stegmann has grown into one of the most effective opensiders in the game today. He will again be to the fore in turning over opposition ball and his stats will show a consistent ability to carry ball, hit rucks and made a massive amount of tackles. The added experience of test match rugby makes him one of the key players in the Bulls pack.
Stegmann attended South Africa’s top-ranked rugby school, Grey College, Bloemfontein, where he was selected for the SA schools team. During high school he was a track and field athlete and played number 8 (as well as flank) in Grey College’s First XV loose trio, alongside Springbok and Cheetahs flank Heinrich Brussow, and Cheetahs flank Richardt Strauss.
He made his Super 14 debut for the Bulls in 2008 at the age of 21.
Stegmann is a classic fetcher with a low centre of gravity who is thriving under the new law interpretations- and his anticipation, together with his toughness, is a huge asset for the Bulls.He made the number 6 jersey his own in 2008 after playing in every Super 14 match and being awarded Bulls Forward of the Year in 2008.
He has been one of the Super Rugby’s best openside flankers from 2008 to 2011. He is one of the hardest working players in the Bulls’ squad, as well as a superb team player with a very high work rate, regularly leading the tackle count, turnover and work rate stats for the Bulls.He has a time of 10.8 seconds in the 100 metre sprint.
In November 2010, Stegmann was called up to the Springbok squad (outgoing tours) as a replacement to injured Springbok flank and former IRB player of the year Schalk Burger, and was handed his first cap as a Springbok debutant in the starting lineup named to face Ireland on November 6, 2010. The Springboks won and Stegmann subsequently started every match on tour. South Africa obtained a result of 3-1 over the Isles, beating England and Wales and losing to Scotland.
- Free State (U/18 Craven Week) – 2004
- Vodacom Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup, SA Under 19) – 2005
- Blue Bulls (ABSA Under 21) – 2006
- Vodacom Blue Bulls (Vodacom Cup, ABSA Currie Cup) – 2007
- Vodacom Bulls (Super 14) & Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup) – 2008
- Vodacom Bulls (Super 14) & Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup) – 2009
- Vodacom Bulls (Super 14) & Springboks (Outgoing Tours) – 2010
- Vodacom Bulls (Super 15) & Springboks & Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup) – 2011
Name: Dewald Johan (Dewald) Potgieter
The blonde tearaway will be the first to admit that 2011 was not his best season since becoming a professional rugby player and Potgieter will be very keen to rectify that in 2012. Injuries and a loss of form resulted in him losing his spot on the Springbok roster and the hurt of that should manifest itself in his performances this time around. His versatility as a loose forward will also boost the Bulls.
His first tour with the Springboks was to France, Italy, Ireland & England in late 2009.
He has an exceptional work rate and fast became a crowd favourite when playing at his home ground, the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, in Pretoria, South Africa. Potgieter has won 2 Super rugby titles and a Currie Cup.
- Cravenweek – 1999–2003
- Border U18 Cravenweek, Green Squad – 2004
- Blue Bulls U19 & Blue Bulls U21 – 2005
- Vodacom Blue Bulls 2006–2009
- SA U21 – 2006
- Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 Absa Competition – 2007
- Emerging Springboks – 2007–09
- Springboks – 2009 to 2010
Name: Pierre Johan (Pierre) Spies
Spies attended Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Afrikaans High School for Boys, also known as Affies). After school he completed his first year in B.Sc Construction Management at the University of Pretoria, but did not continue his studies due to te tragedy of his dad, Pierre Spies Snr’s passing (Pierre Snr played Wing for Northern Transvaal in the 1970’s).
He made his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2005 in a match against the Griquas and made his Super 12 debut against the Brumbies, becoming the youngest player ever to represent the Bulls. After being injured in his first ever Super 12 match, he made his comeback through the national under-21 league, where he scored nine tries in just six games.
He has represented the Springboks since 2006.
Although he plays as a loose forward, he has considerable pace, having been timed at 10.7 seconds over 100m. This is especially impressive considering his size (194 cm tall and 111 kg); he has played wing for the Bulls and Springboks when they experienced an injury crisis. He power cleans 135kg. He dead lifts 240kg. He bench presses 165kg. Only mildly impressed? Wait, here are some more. He is able to do pull-ups with a 50kg weight between his legs. He can launch his 108kg body 1.4m onto a raised platform, sprints for 835m before slowing on a repeated sprint-ability test and has a body-fat percentage of 6.5.
Pierre is now saddled with the Bulls captaincy for the Super Rugby competition and is now accepted amongst his peers as one of the great loose forwards in the international game and will be keen to remind all his opponents of that with his powerful play off the base, great pace in open space and anticipation in broken play. Captaincy at this level will be another challenge the extremely religious player embrace with open arms.
Pierre has been critisized widely for ‘disapearing’ in tight games and has not exactly set the world alight in the last 2 seasons for the Springboks, but was still the preferred No 8 for the Springboks till the end of last year. Pierre needs to convert his massive power and explosive abilities better, by adopting better body positions going into contact and working on his defence and his handling behind the pack at the scrum.
If you love to hate Pierre because he does not play for your team, at the same time you have to admit that you also fear his abilities… come on, just admit it!
|2002||Craven week – lock|
|2003||Craven week no 8 – captain|
|2004||SA U/19 – wing|
|2005||Became youngest Blue Bull to make Super 12 Debut at age19, SA Students; Blue Bull U/21 top try scorer – 9 tries in 6 games|
|2006||Blue Bulls Super 14, SA U/21, Springbok Debut – Australia v South Africa in Brisbane,
Man of the Match – NZ v South Africa in Rustenburg, South Africa’s most Promising Player of the Year
SA Currie Cup Player of the Year Nominee, SA Player of the Year Nominee, International New Player of the Year Nominee
|2007||Team member Blue Bulls Super 14 winners, Springbok Man of the Match – SA v England at Loftus Versfeld Pretoria, Selected for Springbok World Cup team – withdrew from World Cup due to medical reasons|
|2008||Back in the game – Blue Bulls Super 14, Springboks|
|2009||Blue Bulls Super 14 winners, Springboks winning Lions series|
|2010||Blue Bulls Super 14 winners, Springboks|
|2011||Bulls Super 15, Springboks, Rugby World Cup Squad|
Name: Arnoldus Francois (Arno) Botha
He is not 20 years old yet, but showed why he was drafted into a starting position in the Currie Cup competition already. For the young tearaway it is clearly a case of – if he is good enough, he is old enough.
Botha made his first run-on start a week after debutting off the bench against the Pumas in 2011 and immediately showed against Griquas why he is rated amongst the top young players in the country.
The impressive youngster has all the qualities you expect from a product of the Bulls loose forward factory. He is extremely fit and strong, huge and don’t know how to quit. He is a destructive defender and a great ball carrier and was rated as one of the standouts at the u.20 World Cup tournament in 2011, where he captained South Africa. Botha represents the next generation of Bulls players.
I tout Arno to become a Springbok and a bloody good one too! This boykie is going places.
2011 – Tuks FNB Varsity Cup, South Africa u.20 IRB Junior World Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls u.21 competition, Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup
2010 – Blue Bulls u.19 – Absa provincial competition
2009 – Limpopo Blue Bulls Craven Week u.18
Name: Ulrich Jacques (Jacques) Potgieter
He represented Eastern Province at the annual Craven Week rugby tournament in 2004 and then clinched a move to the Natal Sharks, whom he represented at various youth levels before playing in the Vodacom Cup for two seasons before moving back to the Eastern Province Kings for the 2009 Currie Cup First Division season.
In August 2011, the Blue Bulls announced that they had signed Potgieter for the 2012 season on a two-year contract. An early release of his contract was secured and he joined the Bulls on 1 September 2011.
Jacques has now played Currie Cup rugby for the Blue Bulls where he impressed with strong ball-carrying performances, strong defence, and providing that hard edge which is expected from looseforwards at the Bulls.
Expect this all action loose forward to hit the ground running in his first season of Super Rugby. An abrasive and aggressive player, Potgieter does not know how to take a backward step and opponents will soon learn about the former EP Kings player’s bone crushing defence. Having paid his dues in the lower echelons of the game, Potgieter will be keen to announce himself to the big time big time.
- 2011 – EP Kings Currie Cup First Division, SA Kings Nations Cup in Romania, Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup
- 2010 – EP Kings Currie Cup First Division
- 2009 – EP Kings Currie Cup First Division, Sharks Vodacom Cup
- 2008 – Sharks Vodacom Cup
- 2007 – Sharks u.21 Absa Cup
- 2006 – Sharks u.19 Absa Cup
- 2004 – EP Schools Craven Week 2004
Name: Christiaan Johan (CJ) Stander
CJ matriculated at Oakdale Landbou (Agricultural) School and South Western Districts had the honour of captaining the South African Schools team in 2008 and SA Under 20 in 2010.
He was born in George and attended Blanco Junior School. He started his rugby career at flyhalf before settling into his current position of No. 8 in Under-13, although he did campaign at lock for the South Western Districts Under-13 team. CJ comes from a sporting family.
This will be a first Super Rugby campaign for one of the most talked about loose forwards in the country. The former SA u.20 and SA Schools captain had a great Currie Cup season with the Blue Bulls although he was still a junior player and brings a massive work rate, great rugby brain, impeccable leadership skills and tremendous ability in the loose to the team.
- 2011 – Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup
- 2010 – Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup,SA u.20 IRB Junior World Cup (Captain)
- 2009 – SA U.20 IRB Junior World Cup,Vodacom Blue Bulls u.19 & u.21
- 2008 – SWD Schools Craven Week, SA Schools 2008 (Captain)
- 2007 – SWD Schools Craven Week, SA Schools Academy
- 2006 – SWD Schools Craven Week
There’s still the tough Tukkie, Warwick Tecklenburg, just itching to get a run.
The starting trio with balance later in the competition should be the 3 Springboks, namely Deon Stegmann (No 6), Dewald Potgieter (No 7) and Pierre Spies (No 8 & Captain).
At the moment Dewald Potgieter is still injured and on his way back through rehabilitation from injury. It has just been learnt from the Blue Bulls that Jacques Potgieter will be out for about a month due to a back strain injury, posibly missing 1 or 2 Super Rugby games.
Both Arno Botha and CJ Stander should fill the gaps nicely at No 7 in the meantime and on the bench.
Name: Francois Hougaard
Hougaard was born in Paarl and matriculated at Paul Roos Gymnasium.
His primary position is scrumhalf, but in recent times he has been deployed on the wing for the Bulls and Springboks. His first tour with the Springboks was to France, Italy, Ireland and England in late 2009 where he played in one test against Italy on 21 November 2009 and two touring matches. Hougaard won the Currie Cup in 2009, and the Super rugby title in 2010, scoring tries in both finals.
In the 2011 Super 15 season, he showed great promise, adapting to his self proclaimed preferred position of scrum half in the absences of Fourie Du Preez, very well, and as a result, landed a position in the Springbok World Cup Squad for 2011 tournament.
He is by far one of the most destructive runners in Super Rugby and many local pundits rate him as the best left winger and best scrumhalf in the country. The Bulls will almost certainly use him in both roles and although the strongly built player indicated his preference to the nine jumper, his love and ability in scoring tries while roaming the field on attack could see Hougaard play on the wing often.
It is common ground by most pundits that Francois should be the Springbok scrumhalf in 2012.
Give him a jersey with any number on the back en he will play there… and will excel. Just make sure that the jersey is a Bulls one!
Name: Jano Vermaak
A fiery presence at the base of the scrum, the former Lions scrumhalf possesses all of the classic attributes of a scrumhalf. Quick and intelligent, he also has a competitive streak a mile wide.
For the under-achieving Lions he had been a vital presence in making them competitive at Super Rugby level.
A former South Africa U21 international, full Springbok honours have as yet eluded him. Following a brilliant season in 2009 he represented the Emerging Springboks against the British & Irish Lions at Newlands in Cape Town, helping to secure a dramatic 13-13 draw.
He was a decent bet for Springbok honours on the Springbok 2009 tour to the northern hemisphere but Vermaak was ruled out of contention with a season-ending injury.
Vermaak has moved from the Lions to the Blue Bulls during the domestic Currie Cup season in 2011 and immediately made an impact with the Pretoria side. His experience behind the pack will be invaluable for the Bulls in 2012 and his crisp passing, great sniping around the fringes and astute tactical kicking will keep his forwards in the game. He is also a valuable stand-in kicker and good leader.
- 2004 – Lions Under 20
- 2005 – SA IRB Sevens player in New Zealand
- 2006 – Golden Cats, SA Under 21, Golden Lions ABSA Currie Cup
- 2007 – Lions Super Rugby, SA Emerging Springboks, Golden Lions ABSA Currie Cup
- 2008 – Lions Super Rugby, Golden Lions ABSA Currie Cup
- 2009 – Lions Super Rugby, SA Emerging Springboks (British & Irish Lions Tour, score was 13 / 13), Lions (British & Irish Lions Tour, Golden Lions ABSA Currie Cup
- 2010 – Golden Lions Lions Vodacom Cup, Lions Super Rugby, Golden Lions ABSA Currie Cup
- 2011 – Lions Super Rugby, Golden Lions Currie Cup, Blue Bulls ABSA Currie Cup
Name: Ruan Snyman
Playing behind two incumbent Springboks could force players to look elsewhere for opportunities, but the nippy Snyman decided to stay put and use his limited opportunities to the best of his abilities. A sniping service, sound kicking game and tactical awareness helped him embrace the chances that came his way, but with Fourie du Preez and Francois Hougaard away on World Cup duty a shoulder injury curtailed his participation in the 2011 Currie Cup.
As far as I’m concerned Ruan is a bit green and does not have the same qualities that Jano or Francois brings to the game, however as a stop-gat scrumhalf he will be OK, should his services be required at all.
No need to go into deeper detail but there is still a number of players in the wings after these 3 scrumhalves already discussed.
The Bulls are virtually assured to start with Francois Hougaard and have Jano Vermaak on the bench but in selected games Hougaard could start on the left wing, giving Jano Vermaak a starting berth. Frans Ludeke has indicated however that he will use Francois Hougaard primarily as a scrumhalf.
I expect that Jano Vermaak WILL get game time every week though, the logical situation being that Francois Hougaard will be moved to left wing after 50 to 60 minutes in the game, allowing Bjorn Basson to either come off or move to fullback in place of Zane Kirchner, and Jano taking over as scrumhalf.
Ruan Snyman should only see duty if something drastic happens to either Francois Hougaard or Jano Vermaak or in a situation where Francois Hougaard is rested to be fresh enough for Springbok duty in June.
Name: Morné Daniel (Morné) Steyn
Morné attended Fichardt Park Laerskool and Fichardt Park Hoërskool in Bloemfontein and made his Provincial debut for the Blue Bulls in 2003.
He was a member of the Bulls teams that won the 2007, 2009 & 2010 Super 14 Competitions. In 2009 he ended the season as the leading point scorer in Super Rugby,and setting a record of 4 drop goals in one single match, in the semifinal against the Crusaders.
Steyn has won an U-21 World Cup, 2 Currie Cups, 3 Super rugby titles, a Series against the British & Irish Lions and 1 Tri-Nations.
He is the most prolific kicker in the game today, Steyn will again run a much organised backline, combining great tactical kicking with a willingness to attack when the opportunity arise. Now in his eighth season at this level, the extremely fit pivot will be looking for 1000 career points and a 100th cap in Super Rugby, as well as adding to his three Super medals.
- World record for most points scored by a player who has scored all their team’s points (31).
- Most points scored against New Zealand (31) in a single test
- South African record for penalties in a test (8) – beating the seven achieved twice by former fullback and now kicking coach of South Africa, Percy Montgomery.
- All of the above records achieved with his 31 points scored in the Tri Nations 2009 match against the All Blacks in Durban on 1 Aug 09
- South African record for most points in a test against Australia.
- Fastest 100 points by a Springbok (8 Test matches, 3 as replacement)
- Fastest 200 points by a Springbok (16 Test matches)
- Fastest 300 points by a Springbok (24 Test matches)
- Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby season (11).
- Most points scored against the All Blacks for a Springbok (31).
- Most points in a Tri Nations match (31).
- Most drop goals in a Super Rugby game (4) (in the 2009 Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders)
- Most drop goals in Super Rugby (21)
- Most points in a Super Rugby season (263) – Beating Dan Carter’s record of 221 set in 2006.
- Steyn also holds the record for most consecutive successful kicks at goal in Test play since statistics for that category were first kept in the late 1980s. He had a streak of 41 successful attempts that ended on 6 November 2010 against Ireland. The previous record was 36, held by Chris Paterson of Scotland.
Name: Lionel Cronje
Cronjé was selected for the SA Under 20 touring squad that went to Argentina in February 2009.
Lionel moved to the Cape at the end of 2009 season following an impressive year for the youngster, which included the SA Rugby U20 Player of the Year award. The flyhalf represented South Africa at the IRB Junior World Championships in Japan, where the side finished in a respectable third place.
Lionel was schooled at Queen’s College.
The versatile 21-year-old has played at flyhalf and fullback, but it is in the No 10 jersey where he believes his talents are best utilised.
Rated as one of the best young players around, Cronjé will be looking to establish himself at the Bulls and justify his move from Cape Town, where a lack of playing opportunities and a serious knee injury curtailed his 2011 season. Equally adept at playing fly half or fullback, Cronjé should see enough game time in the Bulls jersey and confirm his credentials as a future Springbok too.
- 2005 – Under 16 Coca Cola Grant Khomo Week for Border
- 2006 – Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week for Border
- 2007 – Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week for Border
- 2008 – Free State Cheetahs Under 19
- 2009 – FNB Varsity Cup, for Shimlas, IRB Junior World Championships for SA, Vodacom F ree State Cheetahs ABSA Currie Cup, Free State ABSA Under 21
- 2010 – Vodacom Stormers Super Rugby, Western Province Vodacom Cup, Western Province ABSA Under 21 Competition, Western Province ABSA Currie Cup
- 2011 – Western Province Vodacom Cup, DHL Stormers Super Rugby, DHL Western Province Currie Cup
Name: Louis Fouché
His massive boot might be typical of fly halves from Pretoria, but Louis Fouché loves playing a running game as well. The youngster has shown a lot of courage and temperament in his first year of Currie Cup and will provide ideal cover for Morné Steyn during a long and taxing year. Good defence is another plus, but opponents will need to be wary most of his ability to drop goals from 50, 60 meters out.
If the Bulls run into problems they could always also call on the services of Wesley Dunlop, who captained Tukkies last year and who then went to the Platinum Leopards to play Provincial rugby there, not that it is envisaged that the Bulls would need more than 3 quality flyhalves during the Super Rugby competition of 2012.
Of course Morné Steyn should start! He is the current Springbok incumbant flyhalf. One of Louis Fouché or Lionel Cronje should be on the bench for Super Rugby.
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 Bok 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 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: Johann Sadie
Johann Sadie is yet another product of Paarl Gymnasium.
The exciting midfielder comes to the Bulls amid huge expectation and hype. Regarded as one of the brightest stars in backline play in South Africa, Bulls fans will be keen to see if the elusive playmaker can continue his rich vein of form shown in Stormers and Western Province colours in 2011. A massive attacking force and great distributor, Sadie could unlock the potential of the Bulls backline big time.
- 2005 – Western Province Under 16 Coca Cola Grant Khomo Week
- 2006 – Western Province Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week and Under 18 Academy Week, South Africa Under 18 CAR
- 2007 – Western Province Under 18 Coca Cola Craven Week
- 2008 – Vodacom Western Province Under 19 ABSA Under 19 Competition
- 2009 – Maties FNB Varsity Cup, South Africa IRB Junior World Championships, Western Province ABSa Under 21 Competition
- 2010 – Western Province Vodacom Cup, ABSA Under 21 Competition
- 2011 – DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup, DHL Stormers Super Rugby, DHL Western Province ABSA Currie Cup
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 in the 2011 ABSA Currie Cup, where he distinguished himself and where people started thinking, me included, that he might just take Wynand Olivier’s mantle over in the very near future, at inside centre.
He might be one of the youngest players in the competition, but the South African u.20 midfielder has already proved 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 Johann Sadie for a starting berth all season.
- 2006 – Free State Under 16 – 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
Name: William Small-Smith
Schooled at the Rugby Factory, none other than Grey College in Bloemfontein.
He is a young Springbok Sevens star and is currently a member of the Blitzbokke. William is a regular captain of the Blue Bulls U19 team and did very well in the first two legs of the HSBC Sevens World Series, 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.
It is his performances in the Vodacom Cup for the Blue Bulls that has 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.
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.
With Wynand Olivier still in rehabilitation since his operation at the end of last year and a broken wrist bone early this year, I expect that Francois Venter will start at No 12 and Johann Sadie will start at No 13.
No doubt we will see Vice Captain Wynand Olivier back in the mix soon enough, seeing as it is not expected that he’ll miss all that much of the competition. William Small-Smith and Ulrich Beyers is really only cover for the above 3, but what cover to have in the circumstances.
Name: Bjorn Alberick (Bjorn) Basson
Whilst Bjorn usually plays on the left wing, he is a very able fullback.
Having cut his teeth at GWK Griquas and then went on to represent the Cheetahs at Super Rugby level, he decided to move to the Blue Bulls in 2011.
Bjorn represented the Emerging Springboks in 2009 and also played for the Royal XV against the British & Irish Lions.
At The Bulls he Has played Super Rugby, then gone on to represent the Springboks and also played for the Blue Bulls in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division.
We all know Bjorn to be a speed-freak and try scoring machine but if there is possibly one area where he needs to sharpen up is on defence.
Try-scoring comes easy for Basson, who topped the Super Rugby and Currie Cup logs in this regard for the Pretoria franchise. His pace, vision on attack and uncanny ability to contest in the air makes him one of the most dangerous wings in the competition and the Bulls will be looking to give their record-breaking finisher ample opportunity with the ball in hand.
Name: Johannes Jacobus (JJ) Engelbrecht
A product of Grey School (Port Elizabeth), JJ Engelbrecht is rated as one of the most promising young talents in South Africa.
A classical wing, Engelbrecht is powerful with ball in hand and blessed with great speed. The former Eastern Province Craven Week and Under-19 star attended Stellenbosch University after school, playing for the famous Maties 1st XV, and was a member of the 2010 Western Province Currie Cup squad, having made his debut for the region in 2009. In 2011 He continued to represent DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers.
Still just 22 years old, Engelbrecht has been unlucky with injuries early in his career but is expected now to play a big part for the Bulls.
In 2011 JJ was the Players Player of the Year at Western Province Rugby Union.
The hard-running Engelbrecht will be keen for some game time in the competition, the reason why he moved from Western Province and the Stormers at the end of the 2011 season. Fast and dangerous on attack, the new recruit will provide coach Frans Ludeke with valuable options, both on attack and defence. This could be a big year for the winger, who has consistently delivered at Currie Cup level.
Name: Akona Ndungane
Akona is the twin brother of fellow Springbok wing, Odwa Ndungane (who plies his trade at the Sharks), grew up in Umtata and attended Hudson Park Secondary School.
He represented the Elephants in 2002 and 2003, then the Border Bulldogs in 2004, before moving to the Blue Bulls where he has represented the Vodacom Bulls and Blue Bulls, before making his Springbok Test debut on 15 July 2006 against Australia in Brisbane, becoming Springbok Number 774.
Two serious leg breaks has hampered Akona in the last couple of years but towards the end of 2011 he seemed to be coming back into prime form.
Maybe not a fabulously spectacular wing anymore, Akona is as steady as they come, finishes well and his defence is exemplary.
A lot has happened to Ndungane since his debut all those years ago, but the veteran winger has showed great courage and determination to get back to this level of play. He will be looking to improve on his already impressive Super Rugby medal tally in 2012.
Akona owns 3 Super Rugby winners medals (2007, 2009, 2010) as well as a World Cup winners medal (2007).
Name: Zane Kirchner
Zane attended Kretzenhoop Primary School and PW Botha College in George.
Zane made his name at the GWK Griquas where he played between 2003 to 2007, whereafter he joined the Blue Bulls from 2008 till present. He became Springbok Number 804 when he made his Test debut for the Springboks against the British & Irish Lions on 4 July 2009. He is now a seasoned Springbok with Tours to France, Italy & England in 2009 and the British Isles & Ireland in 2010.
As one of the senior members in the squad, Kirchner will be an important cog in his side’s performances in 2012. The fullback, who was also capped at outside centre for the Springboks, needs to show all his attacking, defensive and tactical virtues, not only to provide guidance, but also to impress at national level where a new Springbok coach will be looking to build a new squad for 2015.
If one can critisize Zane it would be that he overuses the up-and-under kick from the back a bit too much, but one has to remember that this tactic was a large part of the Bulls game plan a few seasons ago… the so-called kick and chase… and apply pressure.
Name: Petrus Jurgen (Jurgen) Visser
Jurgen attended Vredendal Primary School and then attended Paarl Gymnasium where he matriculated in 2007. In his matric year he played for Western Province in the Coca-Cola Craven Week. In 2008 he played for Western Province in the Under 19 Competition and in 2010 he played for Western Province in the Under 21 Competition and for Maties in the FNB Varsity Cup.
Jurgen is currently studying Sports Management at Tukkies where he also went on to play in the FNB Varsity Cup in 2011, part of the Tukkies side who made it all the way to the Final.
In 2011 he finally got his chance to also play for the Blue Bulls in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division.
Super Rugby debutant Visser has steadily risen through the ranks at domestic level and should be successful in Super Rugby as well. A schoolboy and age group star at Western Province, Visser graduated into provincial rugby after showing real promise in the Varsity Cup competition, first with Maties and then Tuks. He headed north for more game time in 2011 where he forced his way into the Blue Bulls Currie Cup team.
He may still be a bit green, but has the opportunity to really stick his hand up in 2012.
Name: Clayton Blommetjies
Clayton attended Paarlzicht Primary School and New Orleans Secondary School where he represented Boland Under 16 at the Coca-Cola Craven Week in 2006, Boland Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in 2007, and then Boland Under 18 Academy Week in 2008.
In 2010 he represented Tuks in the Varsity Cup, the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup and played for the Blue Bulls in the Under 21 Competition.
In 2011 he represented the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup.
The gutsy 21 year old player is solid on defence and under the high ball, very dangerous on attack and creates a number of chances for players on his outside when joining the line at speed.
He is decidedly light and small in modern rugby terms, but makes up for it in heart and determination.
Name: Sampie Mastriet
Sampie attended Bonnievale Primary School and HTS Drostdy.
He represented Boland from Under 16 level through to Under 18 and Under 21 level from 2006 to 2008, before going to Pretoria to further his rugby career.
A serious speedster, Sampie is also a Sevens Blitzbok and has played for Tuks in the FNB Varsity Cup, Blue Bulls Under 21 in the Under 21 Competition as well as South Africa in the IRB Junior World Championship, all in 2009.
In 2010 he played for Tuks in the FNB Varsity Cup, the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup and South Africa’s Blitzbokke in the IRB Sevens World Series.
In 2011 he played for the Blue Bulls in Vodacom Cup.
A Number of the Bulls players already discussed in other positions, like Francois Hougaard (who primarily will play scrumhalf), will also be used on the wing. So too, Wynand Olivier, who has represented the Springboks on the wing, apart from his regular berth at centre.
We can therefore assume that the Bulls wing cupboard is pretty packed, but it seems slightly light at fullback.
I think Bjorn Basson (No 11), JJ Engelbrecht (No 14) and Zane Kirchner (No 15) are the most likely starters, but don’t discount old Akona Ndungane… the old horse is still reliable.
Francois Hougaard WILL help out on the wing too, possibly even Wynand Olivier.