Bulls team news for Leinster

Bulls team news for Leinster

Jake White has made minimal forced changes to his side that will engage with Leinster in the “test match like” semi-final of the 2023/24 Vodacom United Rugby Championship, at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday 15 June.

  • Cornel Smit to make his franchise debut
  • Marco van Staden starts, but Marcel Coetzee misses out
  • Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie & Sebastian de Klerk are out with injuries
  • Devon Williams and Sergeal Petersen step into left and right wing, respectively


The Vodacom Bulls director of rugby has brought in Marco van Staden, Devon Williams, Cornel Smit and Sergeal Petersen into the matchday 23 as he juggles squad balance and injuries ahead of a club test match against an Irish international side.



On his opponents, White says; “They (Leinster) hold onto the ball and if you are just comfortable giving them the ball, they will keep it for 20 phases and we have to find a way to get it back. We also have to be accurate at the breakdown,”


Upfront Gerhard Steenekamp (loose head), Johan Grobbelaar (hooker) and Wilco Louw (tight head) lead the pack with Ruan Vermaak and captain, Ruan Nortje at lock. Marco van Staden slots at openside with Elrigh Louw on the blind side and Cameron Hanekom on eighth-man duties.


On Marco’s return, the Vodacom Bulls mentor says: “It is nice to have him back; he has the experience, has played at a World Cup and he wants to play. I am sure (that) he also wants to play in two weeks (in the sold-out Springboks vs Ireland test match at Loftus),”


At the back, Embrose Papier at scrumhalf, combines with Johan Goosen at flyhalf and the two halfbacks link up a backline featuring Devon Williams at left wing and Sergeal Petersen on the right side of the fortress. Harold Vorster and David Kriel combine once more at inside and outside centre respectively, with Willie Le Roux at fullback.


Cornel Smit forms part of a five-three split bench alongside Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Jannes Kirsten, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith and Sergeal Petersen.


The utility back, who arrived at Loftus on loan, is set to make his club debut from the impact squad, a role White believes will become instrumental in an intense 80-minute game.


“Cornel has trained well for us every time and it was always a matter of when he would get the opportunity. Now he gets the chance against an Irish backline and this is what Sport is all about. He is excited, has been around, played SA Schools and he is quick and he adds a different dimension for us and he is good under the high ball and skilful with the boot as well,”



White adds: “This is probably the biggest club game we have had in a really long time. This Leinster side has 25 internationals, a World Cup-winning coach and a team that is desperate to win. Their current group of players has played at the World Cup, three European Cup finals, they have played in VURC playoffs and they have played and won the Six Nations. All they have done over the last three years is switch the colour of their jerseys, blue this week and green the next,”


VODACOM BULLS vs LEINSTER RUGBY STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw, 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Devon Williams, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. David Kriel, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 15. Willie Le Roux

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Akker van der Merwe, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Reinhardt Ludwig, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Cornel Smit


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