Teams for sold-out Loftus Versfeld: Springboks galore as Bulls and Stormers square off

Springbok stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie will start on the wings for the Bulls against the Stormers on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Springbok stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie will start on the wings for the Bulls against the Stormers on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 1, 2024


Cape Town – Stalwarts Elrigh Louw and Frans Malherbe, won’t be involved, but there will be an array of Springboks on show in Saturday’s massive United Rugby Championship clash between the Bulls and Stormers.

Bulls coach Jake White and Stormers counterpart John Dobson announced their match-23s on Friday, and picked their strongest possible combinations for a sold-out Loftus Versfeld (5.05pm), with the last tickets going on Friday to ensure a 50 000-capacity crowd.

But Louw has sustained a shoulder injury that ruled him out, while Malherbe is not quite ready to play yet in his recovery from a back problem.

“He’s got a shoulder, AC joint, which if you consider his strengths of running and carrying and tackling and you take his shoulders out, you can’t pick him if he can’t do the things that he does really well. So, it’s a bit unfortunate as it’s a nice big game for him to not be part of,” White said about Louw on Friday.

“But one of the things I’ve learnt in this game is that you never ever get the full 23 that you want. Some weeks you think you are going to get this player, but then someone else gets injured – and then the whole dynamic and combination changes.”

White has moved youngster Reinhardt Ludwig into the No 7 jersey in place of Louw, with Marco van Staden at openside flank and co-captain Marcell Coetzee at No 8 in a well-balanced loose trio.

Experienced Springbok fullback Willie le Roux is also back in the mix after enjoying his wedding and honeymoon recently, but he will play off the bench, with Devon Williams starting in the No 15 jersey.

But Bok wings Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie are in the line-up, and will hope to help the Bulls break their seven-match losing streak to the Stormers.

Dobson had some difficult selection calls to make for the Capetonians as he was able to include three World Cup-winning Springboks – Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok and captain Deon Fourie – who return from their resting protocols.

Dobson opted to field Willemse at inside centre, with Warrick Gelant remaining at fullback after a fine display against the Sharks a few weeks ago, while Libbok is at flyhalf and Fourie at openside flank.

The Stormers also have an interesting loose trio, with Fourie partnered by Evan Roos at blindside flank, while Hacjivah Dayimani will be at No 8.

In addition, Adré Smith will continue at No 4 lock ahead of Salmaan Moerat, while Joseph Dweba has been preferred over André-Hugo Venter at hooker.

“A North-South showdown at a packed Loftus Versfeld is something for everyone in South African rugby to get excited about, and we are looking forward to playing our part,” Dobson said on Friday.

“It is great to have some of our Boks back for this one and while we would have loved to include Frans Malherbe too, he will unfortunately need a little longer to be at the peak of his considerable powers.

“There were some tough selection decisions to make for this game, and the players involved are all up for what should be another classic.”

Teams For Loftus Versfeld (schools in brackets)

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams (Paarl Boys High) 14 Canan Moodie (Boland Landbou, Laerskool George-Suid) 13 Stedman Gans (Laerskool Vredenburg) 12 David Kriel (Eikestad Primary) 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Paulus Joubert High School) 10 Johan Goosen (Grey College) 9 Embrose Papier (Hoërskool Garsfontein) 8 Marcell Coetzee (co-captain, Suid-Natal Primary) 7 Reinhardt Ludwig (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool) 6 Marco van Staden (Hoërskool Bekker) 5 Ruan Nortjé (co-captain, Hoërskool Wonderboom) 4 Ruan Vermaak (Wysneusies Creche) 3 Wilco Louw (Laerskool Wolseley, HTS Drostdy) 2 Johan Grobbelaar (Paarl Gymnasium) 1 Gerhard Steenekamp (Laerskool Mooirivier).

Bench: 16 Simphiwe Matanzima (Queen’s College) 17 Akker van der Merwe (Laerskool George-Suid) 18 Francois Klopper (Winterton Primary School) 19 JF van Heerden (Grey College) 20 Nizaam Carr (Bishops) 21 Zak Burger (Paarl Gymnasium) 22 Willie le Roux (Lochnerhof Primary School) 23 Mpilo Gumede (Durban High School).

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant (Hoërskool Outeniqua) 14 Ben Loader (Wellington College, UK) 13 Dan du Plessis (Paul Roos) 12 Damian Willemse (Paul Roos) 11 Leolin Zas (Hermanus High) 10 Manie Libbok (Hoërskool Outeniqua) 9 Herschel Jantjies (Paul Roos) 8 Hacjivah Dayimani (Jeppe) 7 Evan Roos (Paarl Boys) 6 Deon Fourie (captain, Hoërskool Pietersburg) 5 Ruben van Heerden (Affies) 4 Adré Smith (Oakdale) 3 Neethling Fouché (Grey College) 2 Joseph Dweba (HTS Louis Botha) 1 Sti Sithole (Westville).

Bench: 16 André-Hugo Venter (Grey College) 17 Brok Harris (Bastion) 18 Sazi Sandi (St Andrews) 19 Salmaan Moerat (Paarl Boys) 20 Ben-Jason Dixon (Paul Roos) 21 Marcel Theunissen (Grey College) 22 Paul de Wet (Paarl Boys) 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Bishops).