Van Rooyen And Mapoe To Lead Vodacom Bulls To Face Leopards


Jacques van Rooyen and Lionel Mapoe will co-lead the Vodacom Bulls side that will take on the Leopards in a friendly match that will kick things off on the North-South derby afternoon. The two sides will kick off at 13h45 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, on Saturday 02 March 2024.

The fixture forms part of the Tshwane camp’s plans of ensuring all players receive invaluable match time as both the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and the Investec Champions Cup competitions begin to zone in on playoffs.

Jake White, Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, says the Loftus faithful who have sold out the weekend will be treated to two quality games featuring all available players.

“It will be great for our players to play before a sold-out stadium, a first for most because we are a fairly young side. It will also be a wonderful opportunity for our supporters to have the opportunity to see all our players in action in one afternoon, especially after buying all available tickets. Our boys must now turn up and make it a memorable afternoon for everyone.”

Van Rooyen (loosehead) will lead from the front, alongside Jan-Hendrik Wessels (hooker) and Khutha Mchunu (tighthead). Behind them will be Merwe Olivier and Janko Swanepoel at lock. Abulele Ndabambi starts at blind side with Corné Beets on the open side, whilst Mihlali Mosi slots in at eight.

Scrumhalf Steven Nel will pair up with Keagan Johannes who will run out at flyhalf. The pair will connect the forwards with a backline that will see Sibongile ‘Easy’ Novuka run out at left wing with Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe to his right at centre. Sergeal Petersen will lace up his boots on the right side of the park with Stravino Jacobs giving cover from fullback.

The side will have impact options that feature Juann Else, Corné Lavagna, Sebastian Lombard, Lilitha Matsiliza, Lukas Meyer, Caleb Abrahams, Jaco van der Walt, Cornel Smit, Robert Hunt, Sesethu Mpaka and Regan Izaks.

Asked about Keagan Johannes starting at flyhalf, White reflected: “As it stands now, we want to try him in different positions. He can play at 10, he used to play there. One of the things that has been happening is he has been on the bench quite a few times as a 9 and one of the things we found is that we can use him in different positions which helps us with a 6-2 split".

On Stravino Jacobs starting at fullback: “He played from the back last week against the Valke and one of the things he wants is to play where he can touch the ball so it will be nice for him. He also has a good left foot and as a fullback with a left foot he will be able to add value there which is nice for us.”

White says these friendlies are also great for keeping playing competition amongst the squad alive.
“The last time we played against the Valke, JF van Heerden played really well and this week he is in the (Stormers) matchday 23 for this weekend, likewise with Nizaam Carr who is also in the VURC matchday mix.”

“So it is nice for the guys to get game time and get match ready and if they do well, they get drafted into the VURC matchday squad, and sometimes through injury which makes it the more important to have these fixtures.”

Vodacom Bulls: 1. Jacques Van Rooyen (c) (Werda Primary School), 2. Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Grey College), 3. Khutha Mchunu (Greytown High School), 4. Merwe Olivier (Grey Bloem), 5. Janko Swanepoel (Gene Louw Primary School), 6. Abulele Ndabambi (Denneoord Primary), 7. Corné Beets (Paarl Gym), 8. Mihlali Mosi (Meuir College), 9. Steven Nel (Hoerskool Garsfontein), 10. Keagan Johannes (Avondale Primary), 11. Sibongile Novuka (Nzululwazi High School), 12. Harold Vorster (Frans du Toit High School), 13. Lionel Mapoe (c) (Hoërskool Fichardtpark), 14. Sergeal Petersen (Laerskool Stuling), 15. Stravino Jacobs (Paarl Gym). Replacements: 16. Juann Else (Grey Bloem), 17. Corné Lavagna (Paarl Gym), 18. Sebastian Lombard (Paarl Boys), 19. Lilitha Matsiliza (Midrand Primary), 20. Lukas Meyer (Parys Primary), 21. Caleb Abrahams (Newton Primary School), 22. Jaco van der Walt (Laerskool Randfontein), 23. Cornel Smit (False Bay Rugby Club for Bishops), 24. Robert Hunt (HTS Drostdy), 25. Sesethu Mpaka (Queens College), 26. Regan Izaks (Op die Voorpos).