The Bulls have looked to rectify their lack of big ball-carrying loose forwards by signing Springbok flank Jacques Potgieter on a three-year contract, the union confirmed at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Potgieter, who is 6’4 and weighs 115kg, starred previously for the Bulls in 22 SuperRugby games in 2012-13, before becoming a high-profile player for the Waratahs. He joined the Sharks at the beginning of the year, but an ankle injury meant he never actually played a game for them, and John Smit, the CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal franchise, confirmed on Wednesday that they had released him from his contract. Potgieter is engaged to actress Angelique Gerber, whose career would be better served by them living in Gauteng.
“We always knew SuperRugby was going to be a battle on the gain-line, so we need good ball-carriers. We know what Jacques can do, we’ve seen how he’s played for the Bulls previously and for the Waratahs, so he’s definitely a good signing. At the beginning of the season we lost three loose forwards to injury at the same time, and Jacques also played four and seven for the Waratahs. Jannes Kirsten can do that too, and they both can really carry the ball,” coach Nollis Marais said.
High performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said Potgieter, who has been seen at practice this week already, will probably be ready to train in a week’s time. He will probably play in all three SuperRugby rounds after the June break.
The acquisition of Potgieter offsets the disappointment of losing hard-working flank Lappies Labuschagne to Japanese club Kubota at the end of the SuperRugby season.
Janse van Rensburg told The Citizen they are hopeful, however, that Labuschagne will be able to return to play for the Bulls in the 2017 SuperRugby campaign at the end of the Japanese season. The fact that Frans Ludeke is coach of Kubota means the Bulls obviously have a negotiating platform, but they did fire Ludeke last year.
Van Rensburg also announced the signing of Southern Kings tighthead prop Jacobie Adriaanse, who Marais described as “a very competitive scrummager who stood his ground against the Crusaders”.