The Bulls won’t have their sensational young eighth, Elrigh Louw, for the United Rugby Championship match against the exuberant Dragons team at Loftus Versfeld, and it’s not like the 22-year-old is resting after a string of powerful performances either.
Louw tested positive for Covid, and while he’s not symptomatic, protocols in place mean he must miss the chance to kill a dragon this weekend.
What the Bulls lose in youthful vitality they gain in a battle-hardened experience, when Arno Botha gets to the bottom of the fray, joining a formidable loose trio alongside Marcell Coetzee and Cyle Brink.
“He’s out of our hands with Elrigh, but he gives Arno a chance in the back row,” said Bulls manager Jake White after naming his team on Friday.
While it’s perfectly natural for players to have more excitement, more edge, before matches against prominent teams like Munster, one of the Bulls’ focus this week has been making sure they don’t compromise their recent excellent run with complacency against a team of the United States. Dragons lying next to last after winning only one of their 10 games.
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“For important games, players automatically go up another level. For example, when I trained the Springboks, before an All Blacks Test you could perceive a different modality. It’s the same for everyone, “White said.
“But other teams probably take playing with us at Loftus Versfeld very seriously and we need to make sure we don’t get caught out of the blue.
“The Dragons just had a bad defeat. They stay in the game and will be competitive. I expect them to try hard. “
Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Embrose Paper; Arno Botha, Cyle Brink, Marcel Coetzee (captain), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Jacques van Rooyen, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp
Bench: Joe van Zyl, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Reinhardt Ludwig, WJ Steenkamp; Zak Burger, Morne Steyn, Cornal Hendricks