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Two Boks in, one out for Bulls this week

SPOTLIGHT: It is back to the salt mines for two World Cup-winning Springboks at the Bulls as they prepare for their United Rugby Championship clash with the Lions at Ellis Park this weekend.

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Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie took their enforced five-week break late in December and early January.

But they will be without the services of fullback Willie le Roux, who is on his honeymoon.

The Bulls are the highest-ranked South African team in the URC (fourth place overall) and take on the Lions currently sitting in tenth spot on the log.

During the two Springboks’ lengthy lay-off – seven weeks in total – it left the Bulls’ Director of Rugby, Jake White, to bank on his reserves and luckily for him the gamble paid off, and they have now won six of their nine outings in the URC

Devon Williams, Sebastiaan de Klerk and Sergeal Petersen more than did their part and especially Williams stood out with some sterling performances.

Williams, who was on loan from the Pumas, will become a permanent fixture with the Bulls after it was revealed that the Pretoria franchise has offered him a contract to pursue his career with them.

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At the time, White said: “I’ve just decided, en masse, I would rather do it all together and bring them back. It doesn’t downplay one or the other.

“Some coaches, like the Sharks or the Stormers, would do it differently. They might do it for five weeks, but that five weeks might be in March and that is up to them.

“And I think the two wings play well together, that’s the one thing, so I’d rather have them together, Canan and Kurt-Lee, than one and not the other one.”

Le Roux was in action for the Bulls since their game against the Stormers on December 23, he faced Bristol on January 13, Bordeaux (Champions Cup) on January 20 and the Lions at Loftus on January 27.

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In Le Roux’s absence, it is likely that Williams can step back into the fullback position like he did against Bristol when he was the Man of the Match.

 

It will be a massive boost for the team from Pretoria to have a player like Arendse back, whose stats on the social media account, Opta Johnny, indicate just how very special a player he is.

Arendse was the only player to gain over 90 metres per 80 minutes of the players that featured for over 800 minutes in major European club competitions in 2023.

He averaged 94m with the ball in hand per match, ahead of the Chiefs’ Josh Hodge and Melvyn Jaminet of Toulon, who both averaged 83m.

The diminutive wing’s eye for a gap and the pace to glide through it have been a sight to behold and he has quickly become a key player for the Bulls.

The Paarl native also signed a contract extension to 2026 and was awarded by the Bulls for his performances during 2023, walking away with the Player of the Year, Players Player of the Year and Fans Player of the Year awards.

Arendse’s form in the green and gold has also been electric, as he’s run in 13 tries in his 15 Tests for the World Champion Boks.

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