Jake White: Bulls’ match against Bok-packed Sharks is like a Test
Bulls coach Jake White said it will be like playing against the Springboks when they take on the Sharks during their United Rugby Championship (URC) match in Durban on Friday night.
In what is expected to be a bruising encounter, Sharks coach Sean Everitt has included Bok stars Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am and Sbu Nkosi in his starting line-up.
“At home with that kind of team, there is a little bit of a buzz. It is like a Test match and we are looking forward to it,” White said.
“We have been growing over the past 16 to 18 months as a team and we are looking to see where we are. We are talking about nine Springboks with guys like Bongi, Ox Nché, Lukhanyo, Siya, Mapimpi who played against England a few weeks ago.
“This is a huge test for us to see whether we are good enough to handle that sort of pressure of going away against a star-studded Natal side.”
In recent seasons, the Bulls have had the better of the Sharks in two consecutive Currie Cup finals at Loftus and White is expecting them to come for revenge.
“It is a big week. Iit’s not only a local derby but a game we played in the Currie Cup final twice. They’ve got a Tongan international, Australian international, a Scottish international and nine incumbent Springboks and that says a lot about their squad.”
White said the Bulls are prepared for the match even though they have not played in a while.
“We gave our players three weeks off. Some other unions came back a little earlier and in hindsight it probably worked a bit in our favour because we didn’t play in the fourth week.
“Now everyone is probably in the same boat from a prepared point of view. That is the one area where I think we were a bit fortunate. We get to play another derby and I was saying to the players that we have played all these good sides and now it is almost like we are playing the Springboks.
“They have nine Springboks back, you have a Scottish international, you have a Tongan international and you have an Australian international and it doesn’t get much tougher than that.
“I think the Sharks at home with all those international players is going to be a huge test for us but I can tell you that we get to measure ourselves against an international side again.”
Sharks: Ntuthuko Mchunu, Bongi Mbonambi, Thomas du Toit (v/c), Ruben van Heerden, Hyron Andrews, Siya Kolisi, Jeandre Labuschagne, Phepsi Buthelezi, Ruan Pienaar, Boeta Chamberlain, Makazole Mapimpi, Lukhanyo Am (c), Jeremy Ward, Sbu Nkosi, Anthony Volmink. Replacements Kerron van Vuuren, Khwezi Mona, Lourens Adriaanse, Reniel Hugo, Henco Venter, Sanele Nohamba, Tito Bonilla, Werner Kok.
Bulls: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Madosh Tambwe, David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Richard Kriel, Morné Steyn, Embrose Papier; Gerhard Steenekamp, Bismarck du Plessis, Robert Hunt, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Marcell Coetzee (capt), Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw. Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Simphiwe Matanzima, Lizo Gqoboka, Jacques du Plessis, Sintu Manjezi, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, Harold Vorster.
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