IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Bulls forwards coach Russell Winter provided a very positive assessment, as the team prepares to resume their United Rugby Championship campaign without some key players.
The Bulls will host Welsh side Ospreys at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, following the four-week break during the November international window.
The team has been boosted by the return of a host of South African ‘A’ team players – Cornal Hendricks, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Simphiwe Matanzima and Mornay Smith.
Hooker Johan Grobbelaar also returned to the team, following an injury he sustained during the SA ‘A’ tour.
However, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, Marco Van Staden and Johan Goosen are all still with the Springboks – preparing for the Test against England on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Winter said he is happy with the team’s progression despite missing a few key players.
“Elrich Louw, Simphiwe, Ruan and Mornay all return to the squad,” Winter said, adding: “We may be missing some personnel, but fortunately we gained another Springbok in the shape of Canan Moodie.
“Also, obviously Johan Goosen and Kurt-Lee Arendse are still with the Springboks on tour.
“However we are very happy where we are.
“The guys that have come back are fit and ready to go, so we trying to manage them and the loads they have done.
“We are almost at full strength and that is a bonus to have at this time of the year.”
#⃣SPOTLIGHT: #Wales‘ four regional teams face tough assignments when they travel 13,000 kilometers south to tackle #South African franchises at the resumption of the @URCOfficial #Rugby 🏉#RugbyUnion🌍
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) November 22, 2022
The Bulls will also take to the field without captain Marcell Coetzee.
The 31-year-old played his last game for the Bulls four weeks ago – leading them to a win over the Sharks.
He will rejoin the Bulls next year, once his commitments with the Japanese team the Steelers are completed.
Coetzee has been a strong leader for the Bulls on the field, while his presence at the loose trio will also leave a big.
Nonetheless, Winter is confident the team have a suitable backup in the loose forwards.
“Marcell is a born leader and someone who stood out for us every single week,” Winter said.
“It goes without saying that they will be missed, as they are two unbelievable players,” he said of Coetzee and fellow loose forward Van Staden].
“Marco will of course be coming back to us [after the international commitments] and we look forward to that, as he is a good man and good player with a massive influence around the field.
“But in saying that, we have Cyle Brink coming back from injury, and we have Elright Louw back. Nizaam Carr is also back with us and there are a lot of other players in the system eager to get a chance, with the ability to play at this level.
“I’d say we have guys with high capabilities, and we have good depth at loose forward with several guys ready to step into the shoes of the players that are absent and do a good job for us.”
Turning his attention to Saturday’s clash, the Bulls’ assistant also said the four-break has not disrupted the team too much.
The side built some winning momentum with consecutive victories over Benetton and Sharks prior to the break.
“We try to simulate match scenarios, make sure we have deliberate training in what we do and that is what we need to do for Saturday,” Winter said.
“Think the way we have been training the last two weeks has been good for the guys. We made sure we have maintained contact levels as well as their fitness so hopefully, there is not too much rust.”