The Vodacom Bulls have added three new faces to the match-day 23 from a week ago as the Pretoria outfit prepares for a stern New Year’s Eve test in the form of the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
Simphiwe ‘power-pack’ Matanzima will start at loose-head prop supported by Johan Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith in the front row whilst the second and back row remains the same as the one that did duty the week before. At the back, Bernard van der Linde slots in at scrum-half with Embrose Papier moving to the impact squad, as Chris Smith starts at fly-half. Springbok duo, Johan Goosen  and Kurt-Lee Arendse  will run out at left wing and full-back respectively.
Springbok speedster, Canan Moodie will start at right wing with Harold Vorster and Cornal Hendricks pairing up at inside and outside centre respectively. Hooker, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and utility back, David Kriel complete the list of new faces in the match-day 23.
The 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship round 11 clash against the Durban team is pencilled for 16h45pm kick off, at the Kings Park Stadium, and will be broadcast live on SuperSport Rugby.
BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White said the fixture is not a do-or-die but an opportunity to register another good performance in the competition.
“Looking at their team, it is easy to see why they are the strongest provincial team in the competition,”
“We are going to play against nine Springboks, we did it in Cape Town last season again the SA’A side when nobody gave us a chance. Again, the uniqueness of this competition is that anybody can beat anybody, whether you are 11th on the log playing the top-ranked side, you can still get the result,”
“We are going there to give it our full go. We have to play the best rugby to give us the best possible opportunity to get into the playoffs and everybody knows that if you play good rugby in the final few weeks of the competition, you have a good chance at winning the tournament,”
On Johan Goosen at full-back, White said: “Last time we played them we actually picked Smith and Goosen at 10 and 15 and the combination worked, we played reasonably well. Giving us two kickers and two passes, two kicking options which help us a lot. There is also a chance of rain tomorrow and that will suit us a bit with the two at fly half and full back.”
“Our selection is not a reaction to them but it is because it is a tactic that worked for us when we played them at home and we would like to see it work again from a combination of two guys who understand each other,”
“Sometimes you have to package things differently in order to get the best out of your players.”
On Bernard van der Linde at 9, the Vodacom Bulls mentor said: “It will be an interesting game because of the chance of rain and his ability to kick. He played well for us against Lyon and it will be good to see him in the field again for us.”
Asked about starting Simphiwe Matanzima starting, White responded: “A guy like Simphiwe, I felt after Saturday, I have not given him enough game time. I could see the frustration in his eyes that he did not have enough time to stamp his authority. He scrummed really well and I was probably conservative in giving the front row more time since they played so well. So, I felt I needed to give Simphiwe more time this week,”
“This will be a good test for him, scrumming with Grobbies and Mornay and this will be a good test for him to see how he plays as a starter,”
“He is a loosehead prop chomping at the bid to start and he is ready to give us a good game. Sometimes when you create competition at certain positions, you get different results out of each person.”
Asked about the possible outlook of the playoffs, White responded: “We beat the Sharks at Loftus with a bonus point and if they win their match over the Stormers and we win tomorrow in Durban, we then jump up as favourites to win the conference, so there is a lot of permutations still ahead between now and the end of the competition,”
“We are still in December, in a competition that runs until May and there is a lot of rugby to be played.”
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV:
1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD:
16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Lionel Mapoe, 23. David Kriel
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist
Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named
The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
New Role for Ian Costello
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Academy and Pathway Manager Ian Costello will assume the newly created role of Head of Rugby Operations at the end of this season.
Costello will take on further responsibility in an all-encompassing Head of Rugby Operations role that will oversee the long-term strategic development of the elite player pathway, succession planning, and provide recruitment support for developing, retaining, and recruiting players in conjunction with the Head Coach.
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are delighted that Ian will step into this newly created role.
“This has been a work in progress in the background for some time as we look to align our resource support with the IRFU and other provinces.
“When Ian returned to the province as Academy Manager he was identified as the ideal candidate for this role when incorporating his previous coaching experience, managerial skill-set, and strategic abilities for aligning and developing our player pathway.”
Head Coach Graham Rowntree added, “I’m delighted to have someone of Cossie’s calibre (Ian Costello) taking on this role.
“We work very closely as it is through his academy role, and from my own personal point of view it has been a really positive working relationship. Ian and his academy team play a key role in everything we are trying to achieve each week.
“It’s great to have a dedicated resource to driving long-term succession planning and coordinate recruitment operations, and I believe it will be of huge benefit to not only me and our coaching team, but to Munster Rugby.”
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing
The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.
Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.
The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.
This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.
Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.
“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”
“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”
“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”
Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”
“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”
Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”
“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.
The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager
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