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Ken Borland

Bulls still have belief despite period of introspection after successive defeats 0

Posted on January 06, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls are obviously going though a period of introspection after successive losses on tour but the belief of the team is still there according to backline player David Kriel and technical analyst John-William Meyer.

The Bulls not only lost 35-21 to Glasgow Warriors and 31-17 to Munster, but played poorly on both occasions, the lack of intensity in their performance being particularly concerning. They now face a tricky match against Benetton in Treviso on Friday night.

“It’s been a time of self-reflection for us and we’re asking ourselves how physical we were, are we satisfied with our individual performances?” Kriel said.

“We are obviously a much better team than we showed these last couple of weeks, but we’re getting scars in terms of where the tour is going.

“That’s enough motivation on its own to end on a high note against Benetton this weekend,” Kriel, one of the few players to shine for the Bulls last weekend against Munster, said.

“In terms of morale, the group trust the process and it’s the players that enforce that,” Meyer said. “They come up with plans X, Y and Z, and there’s been no need for management to intervene.

“The players are all still positive and they believe in what they are doing. But we ask questions like ‘Did we execute our plan?’, ‘how many opportunities were there and why weren’t they taken?’” Meyer said.

The good news for the Bulls is that their match against Benetton will not be played on a 4G pitch but on normal grass, and the heat in Italy will make a welcome change to the wet and cold of the United Kingdom.

But Benetton still play at a cracking pace, Meyer saying they have the second-fastest game in the United Rugby Championship, behind log-leaders Leinster.

“Benetton are also very physical and good on defence, knocking you back,” Meyer added. “Their kicking game will definitely be a challenge as they try to expose the space behind us.

“They also have a lot of variety on attack and we’ve seen some sneaky moves inside the 22 which we have not seen before.

“What will also put our defence under pressure is when we kick inaccurately, that puts your defensive structure under huge pressure,” Meyer said.

Simelane at centre, wing or fullback? Hendricks at wing or centre? Kriel at fullback or centre? 0

Posted on October 31, 2022 by Ken

Wandisile Simelane at centre, wing or fullback? Cornal Hendricks at wing or centre? David Kriel at fullback or centre?

These were the questions Bulls coach Jake White was faced with when he selected his team for their opening United Rugby Championship match against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, and last season’s beaten finalists announced a new-look backline on Friday.

Most interest centred around where Simelane, signed from the Lions during the winter, would fit in, and the talented 24-year-old will debut at fullback. That means an interesting shift to centre for Kriel, who played most of his rugby for the Bulls in the No.15 jersey before White decided he wanted more counter-attacking threat from the back.

“It’s important with the way the game is going and the way I like to coach, for players to be interchangeable,” White said on Friday. “Look at the All Blacks, where Beauden and Jordy Barrett and Richie Mounga run the game in different positions. It’s not about the number on your back.

“Wandisile is a gifted footballer, I believe he was offered a scholarship as a kid by Kaizer Chiefs. He just has that feel for the game, the way he kicks with such good timing.

“And with Lukhanyo Am playing at No.13 for the Springboks and being one of the best in the world, for Wandi to play for the Boks, he needs to be more versatile.

“We swopped the backs around a bit, but they understand each other. We want to change our game a bit and there have been some discussions about what we can add,” White said.

S’bu Nkosi will also make his Bulls debut on the opposite wing to Hendricks, while the other player to pull on the blue jersey for the first time will be eighthman Mihlali Mosi, the 26-year-old who was signed from the Free State Cheetahs.

“Mihlali was a Muir College boy and he also has great feel, great touches, and I was loving his great lines in training. I’m looking forward to him running into some holes on Saturday because he really understands support lines.

“He’s not small either, so he’s also a lineout option at the back, whether catching or lifting. He’s in a pack with a couple of Springboks and hopefully he learns from them and it raises his game,” White said.

The coach said flyhalf Johan Goosen is almost fit to play again, “but we won’t rush things, we want to make sure he is ready, make sure he is mentally comfortable”.

Utility forward Jacques du Plessis, props Simphiwe Matanzima and Lizo Gqoboka, utility back James Verity-Amm and loose forward Muller Uys are the other players with injury concerns.

Bulls: Wandisile Simelane, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, David Kriel, S’bu Nkosi, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier; Mihlali Mosi, Ruan Vermaak, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Dylan Smith, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Marco van Staden; Zak Burger, Morne Steyn, Stedman Gans.

Bulls have played some fine rugby, but lessons from Italy need to be taken on board – Kriel 0

Posted on October 13, 2021 by Ken

The Bulls have overcome all manner of pressure and played some fine rugby, becoming a real pain in the neck for their South African rivals, but if there is one performance where fingers could be pointed at them for not pitching, it was the Rainbow Cup final against Benetton Treviso in June. But fullback David Kriel said on Tuesday that the squad has taken those lessons from Italy on board.

They will need to have learnt from the harsh lesson they were dished out that day because, in their first trip overseas since Super Rugby in March 2020 they were humbled 35-8 by Treviso, who were considered no-hopers before the game. And now on Saturday they face the might of Leinster at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in their first ever United Rugby Championship match.

“It’s another opportunity for us to build on what we learnt from the Benetton Treviso game, which was not our best performance. But we took it as a stepping stone and an opportunity for growth. It was a challenging experience but good for the squad. This time around we want to be more clinical and play like the championship side we are.

“It’s comforting that this time we are in Europe for a while, we can get used to the conditions and the lifestyle, and it will certainly benefit the squad being together for a whole month. Personally, it allows me to be like a sponge and soak up the lessons while I’m still young. We are the Currie Cup champions, we must own it and we know that Leinster will want to show they are better than us,” Kriel said.

Given their pedigree, with five European titles and being one of only four teams to ever defend the European Cup, no-one is ever going to err by considering Leinster the underdogs when they take on a Bulls side that has swept all aside at home but is yet to prove themselves overseas.

And the 22-year-old Kriel is certainly aware of how imperious Leinster have been in dominating the Pro14 that preceded the URC.

“Growing up I would always watch a quality side like Leinster. Someone like Johnny Sexton is still playing, but previously those great centres Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy played for Leinster too. So I’m a bit nervous about playing against them, but also very excited for the opportunity.

“The Currie Cup prepared us for lots of high-ball catching and the URC sides love that too, so as outside backs we’ve been working hard to make sure we don’t make mistakes there. Otherwise, as a fullback you’re not necessarily in the game for the whole 80 minutes, so I just try to be everywhere looking for work, wherever I can be used,” Kriel said.

Kriel & Tambwe 2 outstanding prospects in the Loftus crucible 0

Posted on March 23, 2021 by Ken

Loftus Versfeld is a crucible refining some of the best young talent in South African rugby at the moment and David Kriel and Madosh Tambwe are two of the standout prospects.

They spoke on Wednesday about what they have enjoyed most about their time with the Bulls.

David Kriel

The 22-year-old fullback said he has especially enjoyed not being under pressure to produce dazzling rugby in a backline full of Sevens stars. Kriel has impressed with his mature, composed performances at fullback in his first full season of senior rugby.

“You have to trust the timing of your selection and I’ve just tried to be composed. A lot of youngsters feel they have to come in and take the spotlight, say ‘look at me now’. But I’ve been able to just do what I know I can do and what the team has needed. I’ve always been maybe a bit more composed since my school days, and now having a mentor like Gio Aplon here helps a lot.

“Coach Jake also knows his stuff and being as versatile as possible is a big advantage. It’s going to be an entirely different experience in Europe and we don’t know how the rugby will compare. But we trust management and we feel ready for what is coming. Conditions will play a big role and we will just stay with what we have established this year,” Kriel said.

Madosh Tambwe

The 23-year-old wing joined the Bulls a month ago, having spent three years at the Lions and then 2020 at the Sharks. His arrival in Pretoria has seen him reunited with Joey Mongalo, his Lions mentor who is now the Bulls’ defence coach. But the Kinshasa-born Parktown product is clearly not at Loftus for a holiday.

“To work with coaches like Jake White and Chris Rossouw is really tremendous and Joey Mongalo again. I met Joey when I was U15 and he was the head coach of the Lions Invitational team, Hacjivah Dayimani played too and I managed to get a scholarship to Parktown. Joey was the one who said to me I should see how far I can go and by Lions U19 I had already decided to make rugby my career.

“I had personal reasons for coming up here from the Sharks, but rugby-wise it also made a lot of sense. It’s something to cherish, not everyone gets to work with the sort of talent that is here and I just try to put my hand up and contribute to the team. I just want to find my feet here and be a regular starter, I know what it takes. I’m just trying to be professional and a great team guy,” Tambwe said.

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