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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Johan Goosen at flyhalf, Kurt-Lee Arendse at fullback as Bulls go full throttle for Connacht showdown

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Cape Town – It’s clear that Bulls coach Jake White is still smarting from last year’s heavy defeat to Connacht in Ireland as he hauled out almost his strongest possible team for Friday’s United Rugby Championship (URC) clash at Loftus Versfeld.

Apart from youngster Francois Klopper at tighthead prop, White has picked his best side to take revenge against the Irish outfit, who walloped the Pretoria side 34-7 in Galway last September.

How’s this for a back-three: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Sbu Nkosi …

All three speedsters are back from Springbok duty in the Rugby Championship, and will be determined to prove their worth to the Bulls and stake a claim for the end-of-year tour to Europe next month.

While Arendse and Moodie are well established at the Pretoria franchise, Nkosi will look to build on his debut against the Lions a few weeks ago.

But it is the selection of Johan Goosen in the No 10 jersey that will attract the most attention. He ran out at fullback in last week’s 33-31 win over Edinburgh at Loftus, and had a few touches, but was not heavily involved.

Now he needs to call the shots as the pivot, as Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is also keen to utilise him on the November tour.

The loose trio has also been bolstered by Marco van Staden’s selection at blindside flank, which will result in a double-threat at the breakdowns as the Bulls will look to stop Connacht from getting quick ball to attack with.

“It’s always nice having Springboks come back, especially when they are looking as good as Canan and Kurt-Lee. Sbu didn’t get a run out for the Boks, but his confidence will still be high having been part of the group. I have no doubt that he is raring to go, and this is his chance,” White said in a statement on Thursday.

“Connacht is a dangerous team. We saw that in the last competition when they gave us a good smack in Galway. A lot has changed since then, and we know what we have to do this weekend.”

Bulls starting XV: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Marcell Coetzee (capt), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Reinhardt Ludwig, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

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