“Fortress Loftus” Should Claim Another Victim


Springbok lock Ruan Nortje, named to captain the Vodacom Bulls while Marcell Coetzee plies his trade in Japan for a few months, will get the first taste of his new job when they host the Ospreys in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in Pretoria on Saturday at 15h00 (SA Time)

The Vodacom Bulls are currently placed 4th on the United Rugby Championship log with 24 log points while the Ospreys are placed 13th with 13 log points.

The Vodacom Bulls go into this match without Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Johan Goosen who is on national duty. Inspirational captain Marcell Coetzee has also left for Japan. However, it is well known that "Fortress Loftus" is not an easy place to win and with the Ospreys "struggling" the Vodacom Bulls should win with relative ease.

Prediction: Vodacom Bulls by 12

Newly appointed captain Ruan Nortje will lead a strong Vodacom Bulls team that also includes the returning Nizaam Carr, one of six Springboks in the starting team, at openside flanker.

Props Simphiwe Matanzima and Mornay Smith, who played on the recent South Africa 'A' tour, are on the bench along with Cyle Brink, who is making a return from injury.

Jake White made several changes to the team that bullied the Cell C Sharks in Round 7. At the back, it is only David Kriel, Harold Vorster and Chris Smith that are retained while Janko Swanepoel at lock joins a brand new loosie combination of Elrigh Louw, WJ Steenkamp and Nizaam Carr.

White, speaking about Nizaam’s appointment at 6 said: “He gives us more in his overall game than what he will at 6 and he has the likes of Bismarck around him who have the experience to support. Nizaam is unbelievable on attack and can run between the back-line players, I am hoping that his skills come in handy for us,”

 “He has played a lot of games for us, even though he was away in between, but he has that innate understanding of our game and I hope that shows come the weekend” the Vodacom Bulls mentor concludes.

 “Whatever people say about them (Osprey), they need to know that this team drew with the champions last season so we know they can play. Yes, they may be under a bit of pressure but we expect that they could very well use that as their motivation to do well in this game,”

 “They visit us without some of their internationals but they have a squad that could very well use the match as an opportunity to put their hands up.”

Rhys Webb is set to captain the Ospreys with Will Hickey lined up for his first start in the BKT URC. There are also two players on the bench that could possibly make their first appearance in the BKT URC, James Fender and Luke Scully.

An athletic and mobile forward who can play across the front row, Will Hickey captained Leinster u19s and played for Ireland u19s.

James Fender was recalled from the Cornish Pirates to cover injuries and international call-ups ahead of the Ospreys SA tour. The Swansea-born lock has also represented Wales at the u/20 level.

Similarly to Fender, Luke Scully also represented Wales at the u/20 level and had a stint at the Cornish Pirates. The Neath born fly-half has also featured for Swansea RFC this season.

Head Coach, Toby Booth, said: “The Vodacom Bulls are one of the toughest teams we’ll face this year. The biggest challenge for us in this game is to prepare for the physicality of the Bulls and focus on how we deal with that.”


Vodacom Bulls: 15. Wandisile Simelane, 14. David Kriel, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. Elrigh Louw, 7.WJ Steenkamp, 6. Nizaan Carr, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4.Janko Swanepoel, 3. Francois Klopper, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Ruan Vermaak, 20. Cyle Brink, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Morne Steyn, 23. Marco Janse van Vuren.

Ospreys: 15. Max Nagy, 14. Luke Morgan, 13. Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 12. Keiran Williams, 11. Keelan Giles, 10. Jack Walsh, 9. Rhys Webb (c), 8. Morgan Morris, 7. Will Hickey, 6. Ethan Roots, 5. Huw Sutton, 4. Bradley Davies, 3. Tom Botha, 2. Scott Baldwin, 1. Garyn Phillips. Replacements: 16. Sam Parry, 17. Rhys Henry, 18. Ben Warren, 19. James Fender, 20. Jack Regan, 21. Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22. Luke Scully, 23. Cai Evans.