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Ken Borland



Ludeke on his way out of Loftus 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

It is not yet clear whether Frans Ludeke will be catching the next train out of Loftus Versfeld for a permanent exit, but the Bulls coach has stood down from his SuperRugby and Currie Cup duties with immediate effect after eight years in charge.

Nollis Marais, the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and U21 coach, will pick up the pieces of the failed SuperRugby campaign and guide the team through this year’s Currie Cup, franchise CEO Barend van Graan announced on Saturday night after the first defeat to the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld in the history of the Sanzar competition.

The 43-year-old Marais has steadily risen up the ranks at Loftus Versfeld, coaching the U21s since 2011 and the Vodacom Cup team since 2013, while also winning the Varsity Cup with Tuks in 2012 and 2013.

Who will coach the Bulls in next year’s SuperRugby competition is still up in the air, however, with Van Graan describing the decision as “an ongoing process”.

Ludeke still has a shade more than a year left on his contract with the Bulls and there is speculation that the two-time Super Rugby winner will move upstairs to take up a director of rugby post.

“It is a big privilege for me, a tough competition lies ahead and I look forward to taking that on. I heard today about my appointment, I’ve been busy preparing for the U21 leagues, so it’s been a very quick five hours in a man’s life.

“As far as my coaching philosophy goes, for me, if you are being paid R1 to play, then you must really play, for the jersey before anything else, but also for the union and the people who come to watch. I will try very hard to bring that attitude to the team,” Marais said on Saturday night.

The Bulls’ reluctance to come out and reveal their long-term plans is mostly because there are still too many variables that haven’t been decided yet. There has been speculation that if Heyneke Meyer does not get an extension to his Springbok contract then the Bulls would be willing to shell out on him as a director of rugby.

His Springbok support team – Johann van Graan, John McFarland and Ricardo Loubscher – could then join him at Loftus Versfeld.

No conversation about the Bulls’ future coaching structure is complete without Victor Matfield joining the debate. The Springbok lock is already part of the coaching set-up and has indicated his desire to succeed Ludeke.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/403490/ludeke-on-his-way-out-of-loftus/

Potgieter assumes flyhalf duties after Pollard injury 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken

Potgieter has been out of action for three weeks with a hamstring strain, but Ludeke is confident he will be able to slot straight back into piloting the Bulls ship in a crunch encounter in which game-management will be crucial, pointing to the superb performance delivered on debut in the number 12 jersey last weekend by Burger Odendaal, in his first week back after a knee injury.

“Handre is not very confident about his knee, it’s been giving him trouble, so it’s not worth the risk playing him if he’s not 100% fit. Burger Odendaal showed last week that the system works, the way he came through after a long break and played a very solid 80 minutes, and we back Jacques-Louis to do the same,” Ludeke said at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.

Having showed that he certainly won’t be a liability at this level, Odendaal retains his place at inside centre, allowing the Bulls to give Springbok Jan Serfontein an extra week’s rest after a hip flexor injury.

In fact, the only other changes to the Bulls side come in the pack, with Grant Hattingh once again standing in for Victor Matfield at number five lock and Dean Greyling starting for Morne Mellet at loosehead.

There is a place for Mellet on the bench, but Matfield is out of the match-day 23 as Ludeke admitted that the veteran Springbok is, in fact, suffering from a knee injury and his absence is not part of his resting duties for the national side.

“Player health is very important for us and we want to be transparent, so we are declaring today that Victor also got injured and his rest will be next week,” Ludeke said.

There is also a return to the squad for reserve hooker Callie Visagie, who has recovered from a back injury.

If there were any doubts that the Bulls are expecting the Lions to play a high-tempo game and to target their breakdown, those will have been dismissed by the selection of Roelof Smit, a second specialist openside flank alongside Deon Stegmann, on the bench.

“Jacques du Plessis and Grant Hattingh can both cover seven and eight, but number six is a specialist position for us, he needs to control the maul at the back and make 20 tackles. Roelof has a high work-rate and we’ve seen he’s been playing well in the Vodacom Cup,” Ludeke said.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellet, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.

http://citizen.co.za/356225/potgieter-assumes-flyhalf-duties-after-pollard-injury/

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