New Springbok Elri Luw appeared to be as excited as a youngster on his birthday return with the Bulls, who also welcome the long-awaited return of Johan Goosen from injury in the United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at Loftus Versfeld in Saturday.
Goosen’s return to action after a lengthy injury lay-off will be closely watched by the Springboks, who are in something of a halves crisis, but the 30-year-old will play at full-back on Saturday, while Louw is the Bulls’ number eight.
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“Ellrich grabbed me two minutes after he was told he was being released from the Springbok camp and said he really needed to play this weekend for the Bulls,” coach Jake White said at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
“He’s young and just loves to play and he’s really looking forward to playing for the Bulls again after a great strike last weekend against Argentina. I’m looking forward to that loose forward combination with him, Marcel Coetzee and Ruan Vermaak.
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“We’re bringing Johan back into the game, playing him at full-back gives him the opportunity to come into the game without having to control everything from the first minute. We are conservative.
“We will find the right time for him to go to the lane, but he will not last 80 minutes. We want to keep him away from the line of fire a little bit, but I’m sure he’ll try to push into the 10 at times,” White explained.
Raise the bar
Both teams are off to a good start to the URC season with the Bulls beating the Lions 31-15 at Ellis Park and Edinburgh beating the Dragons 44-6. But White believes his side will need to raise the bar against Edinburgh, who he believes are more prepared to fully punish the moments of looseness they showed last weekend. The Lions made several rookie mistakes on offense.
“We can’t be inaccurate against Edinburgh, give them the same opportunities as the Lions because they will be better organized and harder to stop. They are a good side.
“We will have to play well, they are one of the teams we didn’t beat last season so we know we have to be ready. We weren’t great last week, but we got the job done.
“But Edinburgh have a lot of experience, they’re coached well, they move the ball, they try to get past you. They have some international players who have played in the World Cups, the Six Nations every year, so that gives them confidence.
“This is a group that has played together a lot and we can’t underestimate them. They also have four South African props who I’m sure will be important,” White said.
The Bulls team.: Johan Goossen, Kornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapo, David Creel, Stravina Jacobs, Chris Smith, Zach Burger; Elry Louw, Ruan Vermaak, Marcel Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortier, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenkamp. IMPACT -Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Clopper, Janka Swanepoel, Marco van Staden; Ambrose Papier, Morne Stein, Stedman Hans.