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Jake reveals Bulls' lengthy injury list

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White has made only one change to his team for their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal showdown with the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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White opted for continuity, seasoned flank Arno Botha starting in place of injured Cyle Brink, who sustained a long-term (five to six months) hamstring injury in the impressive bonus-point victory over Ospreys in Swansea a fortnight ago.

The home side’s bench has been bolstered with the inclusion of Springboks Lizo Gqoboka, who will provide loosehead prop cover, and veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn.

However, White – when asked about the absence of Kurt-Lee Arendse – revealed that not only is the Sevens star still out injured, but the list of injury-enforced absentees is rather lengthy.

“One of the things that has really hit us hard this year, is the long-term injuries,” the Bulls boss said about the decision to again start with teenage sensation Canan Moodie in the URC play-off outing.

The injury list also include utility backs Johan Goosen, James Verity-Amm, Stravino Jacobs and Lionel Mapoe, fullback Sibongile Novuka, utility forwards Sintu Manjezi, Jacques du Plessis and prop Jacques van Rooyen.

“You would think it is the forwards,” White said of the rash of injuries, adding: “[However,] it is the backline players who have had major injuries.”

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Some of those, like Goosen (knee) and Du Plessis (Achilles) are unlikely to appear on the field again this year.

“It has been an interesting year [with injuries],” White said, adding: “I don’t want to rush players back.

“Hopefully we will continue playing in these competitions and then Kurt-Lee will be back sooner, rather than later,” he said of the absence of Arendse.

The Bulls expect another thrilling, but tough challenge against their old rivals.

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“I am really proud of our players for what they have achieved in reaching this stage of the URC,” the Bulls boss said.

“They have put in the hard work and have shown great determination to overcome some obstacles in the early stages of the season to reach the playoffs.

“The Sharks have been an outstanding side throughout the campaign.

“They have shown their quality with all the Springboks in their squad, their depth with the great talent at their disposal and consistency which has seen them claim some good results.

“The fact that we have lost twice to them in the round robin stages shows the quality of their side.

“We are expecting a very tough battle.

“We have done what we can in our preparations for this weekend’s match. Now we will need to now implement and execute our plans well and play our best rugby if we want to overcome a quality outfit like the Sharks.”

Bulls: 15 Canan Moodie, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Izak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Robert Hunt, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Reinhardt Ludwig, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Stedman Gans.

Date: Saturday, June 4
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 13.45 (11.45 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

Bulls team to face Sharks

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