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Ken Borland

Some of Jake’s selection strategies hearsed by Bok & SA A squads

Posted on January 20, 2023 by Ken

Jake White has always leaned on plenty of planning in his selection strategies but the announcement of the Springbok and SA A squads to tour Europe on Friday hearsed some of his intentions for Sunday’s United Rugby Championship derby against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.

The most obvious surprise in the national squads was the omission of Johan Goosen from the main Springbok squad, although he is in the SA A party. White certainly expected his ace flyhalf to be pushing for selection for the Test against Ireland on November 5. To be fair to the national selectors though, Goosen has taken longer than expected to hit top form after a serious knee injury, and his progress was also disrupted by an untimely concussion.

“Johan Goosen is back and will play at fullback. I really wanted him to play at flyhalf, but I thought he would be away with the Springboks this weekend and I told Chris Smith a long time ago that he maybe won’t play much for us at the start of the season, but when Goosen goes I will need him,” White revealed on Friday.

“But it’s worked out nicely with the way we want to play; the Sharks kick a lot, so they’ll be kicking to Johan and he has the same sort of skill set in some ways as Kurt-Lee Arendse. So it’s a bit of a like-for-like swop.

“We have an incredible couple of months ahead – flying and coming back and flying again, playing on Christmas Eve and Old Year’s Eve – so there’s a lot of juggling and planning.

“And there are still national team call-ups and the World Cup build-up to consider. And then you get two or three injuries and the whole thing changes,” White said.

The Sharks are shorn of all their frontline Springboks – with the Bulls actually having eight Test caps in their squad compared to the six of the visitors – but White made a point of stressing that they are still a top-class outfit.

“It doesn’t matter who the Sharks come with, they are still a marquee team worth R450 million,” White chirped. “It’s going to be a massive game, they’re bringing six forwards on the bench, which is a wonderful place to be for a Bulls coach, it’s like the old days.

“The Sharks are an unbelievable team, but the pressure is on them. They haven’t been favourites at Loftus for a long time, but now they apparently are.

“It’s always a big game against the Sharks because all the big names play for them. So I hope buses fuill of our supporters come and we can give them a good game.

“The only way we can make Loftus a fortress is if everyone comes. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I want to see all the pink for cancer jerseys, or the blue ones, but no black jerseys,” White said.

Bulls: Johan Goosen, David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Sbu Nkosi, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, WJ Steenkamp, Marco van Staden, Marcell Coetzee (C), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Francois Klopper, Bismarck du Plessis, Gerhard Steenekamp. Impact – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Ruan Vermaak, Embrose Papier, Stravino Jacobs, Wandisile Simelane.

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