White welcomes back three Springbok players from injury ahead of the Bulls' clash against the Stormers
Bulls coach Jake White has welcomed back three Springbok players from injury as he preparers for his side's Rainbow Cup SA clash against the Stormers at Loftus on Friday night.
Loose forward Marcell Coetzee‚ who will earn his first cap for the Bulls‚ and scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl‚ who will partner flyhalf Morné Steyn‚ have been included in the starting line-up after recovering from their injuries.
There was more good news for White on Thursday as experienced utility back Gio Aplon‚ who has been out for a number of months with a knee injury‚ will start from the bench to add more firepower in the closing stages.
“For Marcel‚ this is his first game for the Bulls and hopefully it is the first of many for him‚” said White.
“I have known him since he was young at the Sharks. It is interesting because we had some of the Loftus legends at our captain’s training session‚ and most of them played more than 100 matches for the Bulls.
“The message that I gave was that you have a guy like Marcel playing his first match and hopefully it is one of many more.
“I get confidence from the fact that [we have managed] to bring Gio Aplon‚ Marcel Coetzee and Ivan van Zyl into [the] squad‚ and credit must go to the conditioning staff who have managed them correctly and got them to this big game.
“Marcel was voted Players’ Player of Pro14‚ Best Player and Players’ Player at Ulster in Northern Ireland‚ and he can play six‚ seven and eight.
“I am looking forward to seeing Duane Vermeulen‚ Elrigh Louw and him playing together.
“I don’t think there are too many loose forward combinations in world rugby at club level that are better than those three‚ and you still have Marco van Staden on the bench.
“The nice thing about it is that it is a combination that hasn’t played together‚ but I am confident that they are good enough to understand their roles and get it right this weekend.”
White said Aplon has added a lot of value to the team‚ even when he was out injured.
“I have also known Gio since his days at the Stormers. I had him at Toyota Verblitz in Japan and I tried to get him to Montpellier when he was in Grenoble.
“It is not only what he does on the field but also off the field. It is the way that he interacts with the players‚ the work that he puts in with guys like Stravino Jacobs‚ David Kriel and those guys.
“Just to have his voice on the field in terms of helping the outside backs‚ that for me is important.
“I am not expecting flashy stuff from him because he’s just come back from a long-term injury.
“He got injured on the second or third week in Bloemfontein and its going to take a while for him. But he’s added a lot of value in the way he talks and he interacts with the group.”
15. David Kriel; 14. Madosh Tambwe; 13. Marco Jansen van Vuren; 12. Cornal Hendricks; 11. Stravino Jacobs; 10. Morné Steyn; 9. Ivan van Zyl; 8. Duane Vermeulen; 7. Elrigh Louw; 6. Marcell Coetzee; 5. Ruan Nortje; 4. Walt Steenkamp; 3. Mornay Smith; 2. Johan Grobbelaar; 1. Gerhard Steenekamp.
16. Schalk Erasmus; 17. Jacques van Rooyen; 18. Trevor Nyakane; 19. Janko Swanepoel; 20. Marco van Staden; 21. Zak Burger; 22. Chris Smith; 23. Gio Aplon; 24. Jan-Hendrik Wessels; 25. Muller Uys; 26. Jan Uys; 27. James Verity-Amm; 28. Keagan Johannes.