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Ken Borland

Bulls will not have Louw … and it’s not as if he’s resting either

Posted on April 19, 2022 by Ken

The Bulls will not have their sensational young eighthman, Elrigh Louw, for their United Rugby Championship match against the feisty Dragons side at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, and it’s not as if the 22-year-old is resting either after a series of powerhouse displays.

Louw has tested positive for Covid but is not symptomatic. Nevertheless, the protocols still in place mean he has to miss the opportunity for some Dragons-slaying this weekend. What the Bulls lose in youthful vitality they gain in battle-hardened experience though as Arno Botha comes in at the back of the scrum, joining a formidable, seasoned loose trio alongside Marcell Coetzee and Cyle Brink.

“It’s out of our hands with Elrigh,” coach Jake White said on Friday, “but it does give Arno an opportunity in the back row. Elrigh is not symptomatic, but the rules state he has to spend seven days in isolation.

“He will then follow the return-to-play protocols after testing on Monday again. But I’ve learnt over the years from playing teams like the Chiefs in a Super Rugby semifinal with the Brumbies that you need to build a squad with international depth.

“That kind of experience is vital. We’re not there yet, but we do have Springboks on the bench like Morne Steyn and Cornal Hendricks, and we’ll get Bismarck du Plessis back too.

“You know those sort of players will add value and the other players get confidence from that as well. And the players have adapted well under pressure before to things like Elrigh not playing now,” White said.

While it is perfectly natural for the players to have more of a buzz, more of an edge, before matches against top teams like Munster, White said one of the focal points this week has been on ensuring the Bulls don’t compromise their recent excellent run with complacency on Saturday against a Dragons side that is second-bottom and has won just one of their 10 games.

“For big games the players automatically go up another level, for example when I coached the Springboks, before an All Blacks Test you could sense a different mode. It’s the same for everyone.

“But other teams probably take playing us at Loftus Versfeld very seriously and we need to make sure we don’t get caught short.

“The Dragons have had just one bad loss, they stay in the game and will be competitive. I expect them to have a full go at us, they play quite quickly too with tap-and-goes.

“They like to use their backs and they’re not afraid to give the ball some air. I expect them to challenge us, but we’re learning all the time that there are no easy wins, no game is a given,” White said.

Bulls team: Kurt-Lee Arendse,Canan Moodie,Lionel Mapoe,Harold Vorster,Madosh Tambwe,Chris Smith,Embrose Papier;Arno Botha,Cyle Brink,Marcell Coetzee (CAPT),Ruan Nortje,Walt Steenkamp,Jacques van Rooyen,Johan Grobbelaar,Gerhard Steenekamp. IMPACT – Joe van Zyl,Simphiwe Matanzima,Mornay Smith,Reinhardt Ludwig,WJ Steenkamp;Zak Burger,Morne Steyn,Cornal Hendricks.

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