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South African URC sides brace for Welsh wave of assault

Following a three-week hiatus, South Africa’s United Rugby Championship (URC) sides are prepared for a Welsh wave of assault on house soil. 

The Bulls and Stomers, specifically, can be eager to proceed the shape that sees them perched within the prime 4 at this stage.

Spherical eight of the competitors kicks off on Friday night when defending champions, the Stormers, welcome the visiting Scarlets to DHL Stadium. 

The Bulls will play host to the Ospreys at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Whereas there are two Sunday clashes because the Lions face up in opposition to the Dragons and the Sharks host the travelling Cardiff.

All 4 South African sides have a win proportion of fifty% or higher so far within the event, as they proceed to enhance on the gradual begin they needed to the URC within the inaugural season. 

The Lions are the lowest-ranked South African aspect sitting at ninth on the desk having performed six matches, received three and misplaced three. 

The Sharks are doing one higher in eighth place however have solely performed 5 matches so far. Final season’s finalists, the Bulls and the Stormers are third and fourth respectively.

Stormers look to construct

The Stormers can be hoping to kick on from their 31-22 away victory over the Lions — earlier than the worldwide break — once they withstand the Scarlets on Friday evening — a aspect they’ve solely confronted as soon as earlier than, beating them 26-21 final season. 

Nonetheless, the Cape City-based aspect can be with out numerous stars that made the staff so profitable final season, who’re presently on Springbok responsibility. 

There are eight gamers unavailable, nonetheless, Stormers head coach John Dobson stated that this presents the aspect with a possibility to construct depth in a demanding season which incorporates Champions Cup fixtures.

“The gamers getting a possibility this week have all been coaching extremely onerous all season and are decided to benefit from this sport,” Dobson stated.

“We’re happy with the depth we’ve got constructed already this season and that is additionally a aspect that options loads of expertise in key positions, so we’re excited to see how they go.

“This choice kinds a part of a transparent technique to arrange ourselves to be aggressive throughout the varied competitions we’re concerned on this season.”

One of many large adjustments sees 21-year-old Kade Wolhuter put on the No 10 jersey within the absence of standard pivot Manie Libbok. 

Kade Wolhuter through the DHL Stormers coaching session at Excessive Efficiency Centre on 21 November, 2022 in Cape City, South Africa. (Picture: Ashley Vlotman / Gallo Photographs)

“We have now an thrilling younger technology of younger gamers coming by and it will likely be an enormous problem for them in opposition to a staff which boasts nearly 300 Take a look at caps, however we’re trying ahead to it,” stated the coach.

Bulls discover new chief

The Bulls conflict in opposition to Ospreys on Saturday will mark the primary for lock Ruan Nortje as captain of the well-known Pretoria union. 

Nortje takes over the duties within the absence 0f Marcell Coetzee, who’s off to Japan for a stint with Kobe Steelers for the subsequent few months, earlier than returning to the Bulls to uphold his contract that ends in 2027. 

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“Marcell and I’ve turn out to be actually good pals. We’ve been roommates since he’s joined us. We get alongside very properly,” stated Nortje.

“On the sector, we at all times converse to one another, I consistently ask him for recommendation. I’ve learnt quite a lot of issues from him. The lesson that stands out, nonetheless, is that he informed me to simply be myself, not attempt to put an excessive amount of onto my plate. I simply have to guide by instance.”

In the meantime, Nizaam Carr — who lately rejoined the Bulls after his English membership Wasps went into administration — will begin within the No 6 jumper for the raging Bulls. 

Wandisile Simelane will reprise his position at fullback with Stravino Jacobs and David Kriel on wings, finishing the again trio. 

Amongst the forwards, Bismarck du Plessis will begin as hooker whereas Jan-Hendrik Wessels makes his comeback from the bench. 

The Bulls’ opponents, the Ospreys presently languish in thirteenth on the log with one victory of their seven matches. 

“We’re studying and getting to know our rivals higher the extra we play in opposition to them and that provides us quite a lot of confidence as a staff in how a lot we consider in doing properly within the competitors,” captain Nortje stated.

“We count on that Ospreys will come ready and seeking to get one over us however we’ve got ready properly and we now have the chance to complete off the job.”

Tremendous Sunday

After tour earlier within the competitors, the Lions can be seeking to bounce again strongly after shedding their final two matches, each at house — in opposition to Ulster and the Stormers. The aspect from Johannesburg haven’t tasted success at house since beating Benetton on 30 April.

Their opponents, the tenth-placed Dragons are but to register a win following 5 earlier visits to South African shores. 

The Sharks shut out spherical eight with a conflict in opposition to Cardiff on Sunday on the Shark Tank. 

The Sharks can be and not using a host of star gamers together with, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche and Jaden Hendrikse, who function for the Springboks in opposition to England on Saturday.

Whereas sensible backs Lukhanyo Am and Aphelele Fassi are additionally unavailable as a result of damage. 

Nonetheless, it can nonetheless be a tricky activity for the visiting Cardiff in opposition to an ever-improving Sharks aspect at house. Cardiff are sixth on the desk with 4 wins from seven matches. 

A win for Sean Everitt and his black-and-white-clad aspect will see them bounce above their company. DM

URC spherical eight fixtures that includes South African sides:


Stormers vs Scarlets (7pm) at DHL Stadium, Cape City.


Bulls vs Ospreys (3pm) at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.


Lions vs Dragons (4pm) at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg.

Sharks v Cardiff (6:10pm) at Kings Park, Durban.


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