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Ken Borland



Ludeke shuffles his cards for crunch game v Lions 0

Posted on July 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is a believer in rotation and has shuffled his cards for their crunch SuperRugby match against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, announcing a side with five changes to the starting line-up on Thursday.

Springboks Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein are both over their injuries and return at lock and inside centre respectively, while Trevor Nyakane was always going to start at loosehead prop even before Dean Greyling had to withdraw from the squad with a knee injury suffered in a car accident in midweek.

But Ludeke has decided to rotate his loose-forwards, with two of his hardest-working players, Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies being replaced by Lappies Labuschagne and Arno Botha.

Stegmann drops out of the match-day 23 with Grant Hattingh, making room for Matfield, able to cover both lock and flank from the bench. Spies has been unwell this week and will be a replacement against the Lions.

“It’s more about rotation than anything else. It’s very positive to have Jan back and Burger Odendaal is on the bench and can have a big impact later in the game. It’s great to have Victor back and Arno and Lappies have both come through their injuries very well.

“Trevor has had a huge impact already this season, we had quite a crisis at tighthead and he really stood up. He’s on a roll, playing well and there’s no mental fatigue with him. At the moment he’s a crucial part of our team,” Ludeke said at Loftus Versfeld on Thursday.

Ludeke confirmed that starting Serfontein at outside centre, where he plays for the Springboks, was an option and the shift may well happen if the Bulls bring Odendaal on for number 13 JJ Engelbrecht at some stage against the Lions.

“Obviously it is an option to play Jan at 13, but we know his combination with JJ works. At this stage a change is not necessary, JJ has no niggles and is going well,” Ludeke said.

On the bench, there is the potential for a first Super Rugby cap for Tuks prop Andrew Beerwinkel, a rising star in South African rugby.

For Matfield, who takes over the captaincy from Spies, Saturday’s match is all about finishing the job in the closing minutes, something the Bulls failed to do in their last-minute 22-18 loss to the Lions at Ellis Park four weeks ago.

“We’re all confident at the moment, we had a great away win against the Sharks and we were in the games against the Stormers and Lions. But we need to pull those games through, we need to know how to finish and convert our chances,” Matfield said.

Team: Jesse Kriel, Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Handré Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha, Jacques du Plessis, Lappies Labuschagne, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane. Bench – Callie Visagie, Morné Mellett, Andrew Beerwinkel, Grant Hattingh, Pierre Spies, Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Jurgen Visser.

Sharks make 5 changes for a site of little success in recent years … 0

Posted on March 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Loftus Versfeld is a site where the Sharks have not seen much success in the last few years, so it may cause some surprise that coach Gary Gold has made five changes to the starting line-up that secured an impressive victory over the Stormers in Cape Town for Friday night’s SuperRugby derby against the Bulls.

But it is a short week for the Sharks – the Bulls are coming off a bye – and there are so many sore bodies after the titanic effort against the Stormers that a few fresher legs will be good for the visitors and, because they are all players promoted from the bench, there is not that much disruption.

One change has been injury-enforced with powerhouse flank Jean-Luc du Preez struggling with a foot injury and he is replaced by former Cheetahs star Philip van der Walt.

Lwazi Mvovo returns on the left wing, with JP Pietersen shifting to the right and Odwa Ndungane moving down to the bench; Michael Claassens swops with Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf; and two of the replacement front-rowers, tighthead Lourens Adriaanse and hooker Kyle Cooper, will get their first starts of the campaign as Coenie Oosthuizen and Franco Marais shift to the bench.

“When we do our planning, there are loads of factors we take into consideration and you can’t plan for injuries, which force you to rotate. It’s not that we’re resting players now, but we want to stop the rot for three or four guys and then there’ll be other guys rotated in three or four weeks time, so that by Week 12, when the tournament has become really rigorous, the players aren’t overloaded,” Gold explained on Wednesday.

“Every guy coming into the starting line-up has come off the bench every week so there’s no disruption. The same team that finished against the Stormers and the Jaguares is starting this week, we want to keep disruption to a minimum. There’s no question that 15 guys can’t win week in and week out, for any franchise. It has to be a group of 20 to 25 and you pray for a group of 30.”

Despite both teams having committed themselves to a new era in terms of the way they play, it will still be a huge physical battle in Pretoria and, even though they have chosen two second-choice front-rowers, the Sharks know they will be hit hard up front first. They will have to absorb those blows and it will also be useful having the accomplished boot of Claassens at a place like Loftus Versfeld where the ball travels for miles thanks to altitude, and territory is crucial.

“The Bulls are quite fresh and they will bring massive physicality. It’s always a set-piece battle at Loftus and the Bulls are very strong there with Adriaan Strauss leading from the front. Our record’s not all that great there and we want to make amends for the past, we’ve had a very disappointing run against them,” captain Tendai Mtawarira said of a streak of four successive defeats in Pretoria and three in a row to the Bulls home and away.

Sharks team: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Joe Pietersen, Michael Claassens, Daniel du Preez, Philip van der Walt, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira (C). Bench – Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, Coenie Oosthuizen, Hyron Andrews, Keegan Daniel, Cobus Reinach, Garth April, Odwa Ndungane.

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