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Ken Borland

Critics staring at ill-looking scrum stats but Winter adamant that Bulls are making progress there 0

Posted on April 13, 2022 by Ken

Sitting 16th and last in one of the United Rugby Championship’s statistical categories means the critics are always going to stare at that facet of the game, but forwards coach Russell Winter is adamant that the Bulls are really making progress in the scrums.

The Bulls have won 87% of their scrums, which is 1% less than the Ospreys and only 2% worse than the Stormers, who are generally considered to have a strong set-piece anchored by Steven Kitshoff.

“The margins are very small, one or two percent. We have really good players here and they work really hard,” Winter said on Tuesday. “Set-piece gives you control of a game and we are definitely getting better in the scrums.

“We lost a very good player in Trevor Nyakane and we’ve had some injuries. So we need to make sure we get some depth, particularly in the front row. We need to look at signing props to get depth.

“We don’t have any new signings there at the moment, but we are looking. But props are really hard to come by and no-one has really been open to negotiation.

“We do have two scrum coaches in Werner Kruger and Edgar Marutlulle and things have definitely progressed. And we’re very happy to have Mornay Smith back, he’s playing Currie Cup in midweek,” Winter said.

The Bulls did, however, announce the signing on Tuesday of the versatile Ruan Vermaak, the former Lions and Red Hurricanes lock who can also play back row.

The Bulls face the Dragons in Pretoria on Saturday and even though the Welshmen have struggled this season having lost their most-capped player, stalwart captain and loose forward Lewis Evans, to retirement at the end of last year, Winter is expecting their pack to come out wanting to move heaven and earth.

“We’re not too sure yet of their travelling squad but Welsh internationals coming back will obviously strengthen their pack and they will want to play well after Wales lost to Italy.

“Their coach Dean Ryan was at Newcastle where I played and he is a tough man, so I imagine he is a tough coach too. So the Dragons will have a hard pack and they will definitely come at us.

“It will be a big pack too, so we gave our guys a couple of days off to make sure we are ready for what’s coming. It’s going to be a good battle up front,” Winter said.

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