Welsh teams will be more dangerous in URC this season — Bulls boss Jake White
Bulls coach Jake White believes the recent big changes in Wales rugby are likely to make the Welsh teams in the United Rugby Championship (URC) more dangerous.
Wales recently said farewell to some of their rugby greats in Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Leigh Halfpenny after they called time on their international careers.
Wyn Jones and Tipuric retired from the international stage before the Rugby World Cup in France while Halfpenny called time after the tournament.
White, who has enjoyed a good record against Welsh sides and will want to keep it intact against Cardiff on Friday, said the retirement of these great players and the start of the new Rugby World Cup four-year cycle means there are places up for grabs in the Wales national team.
And a lot of players from Cardiff, Ospreys, Wales and Dragons will see this as an opportunity to break into the national team set-up, but they will achieve that through performances in the URC.
“If you look at it, just last week they had a big game in Cardiff which was a going away game for Wyn Jones, Halfpenny and Tipuric,” White said.
“It was generally accepted that it’s time for change, but with that comes excitement.
“A lot of youngsters, and I’m not talking young with age, that are coming through and haven’t played Test rugby or some that have been on the border of Test rugby, in and out, will now want to make a statement,” he said.
“A new cycle is starting for the World Cup campaign and I’m sure all four of these regions will see this as an opportunity to put their names up for selection. So I don’t think it’s going to be easy.
“I’m aware rugby is a passionate game in Wales, they love it and do incredibly well at World Cups. Before this World Cup people thought Wales would struggle and they didn’t struggle, they won four games in a row [before they lost to Argentina in the quarterfinals].
“They were playing good rugby at the World Cup,” White said.
With that said, White expects Cardiff to try to emulate the Ospreys, who stunned the Sharks last week.
“I’ve got no doubt it will be a tough game, not just for us, but for every region,” White said.
“You saw what happened last week, Ospreys beat Sharks and a lot of people would have thought the Sharks would win that game in London. So, I’m not taking anything for granted this weekend.”
The game at Cardiff Arms Park will kick off at 9.35pm, South African time. After three rounds, the Bulls have only suffered one defeat and won the other two games. Cardiff have lost two and won one game so far.
Bulls team: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sergeal Petersen, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Mpilo Gumede, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Nizaam Carr (Captain), 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Cameron Hanekom.
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