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Ken Borland


Smal quick to deflect questions about his return to Cape Town

Posted on February 14, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Gert Smal was quick to deflect a question over how it is going to feel for him to return to Cape Town and take on arch-rivals Western Province, a team with whom he enjoyed considerable success as a player, coach and director of rugby, in their Currie Cup match on Wednesday night.

But it will be a poignant moment for the former Springbok loose forward and World Cup winning assistant coach to Jake White. In answering the question, Smal did give an insight into how quickly allegiances can change in the world of professional rugby.

“Ja, it’s funny. In the past week-and-a-half I’ve been having one-on-ones with the players and some of them are guys I contracted at Western Province and now they are at the Bulls,” Smal, who was director of rugby at Newlands from 2014 to 2018, said. He coached the Western Province and Stormers teams between 2000 and 2005.

“There are others here who I was looking at, wanting to bring them to Western Province. But it’s always nice to see talent growing, on both sides. Western Province played well too over the weekend.

“I’m looking forward to the contest, I’m really excited to see how it pans out. It’s a new, big match for us and it’s important we put the game together that we want to see on the park,” Smal said.

And Smal is not the only Springbok who will be visiting Cape Town with the Bulls. He has been able to name fellow internationals Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Morne Steyn and Lionel Mapoe in his side.

Smal was cagey when it came to the question of whether they are just on loan to him until the United Rugby Championship gets back into full swing.

“It’s a new dynamic, running with two teams and it’s a nice challenge to get the balance right. It’s important for some guys to get some game-time and it’s nice to have them with us at the moment.

“They bring great experience and the youngsters around them are getting experience, in terms of intellectual property and leadership, from the senior players.

“It’s about managing the squad, giving everyone some game-time. The beauty of us being one squad is that all the players feel they are part of it, in with a shout.

“Obviously our big names in the team are going to motivate Western Province quite heavily. The challenge for us is to keep our concentration and processes going for 80 minutes,” Smal said.

Bulls team:James Verity-Amm, Canan Moodie, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Sibongile Novuka, Morne Steyn, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Muller Uys, Cyle Brink, Marcell Coetzee, Janko Swanepoel, Sintu Manjezi, Robert Hunt, Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima. Replacements– Schalk Erasmus, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Sebastian Lombard, Reinardt Ludwig, WJ Steenkamp, Keagan Johannes, FC du Plessis, Stedman Gans.

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