Reason behind Simelane's move from Lions to Bulls
FEATURE: The Bulls secured a gem when they signed talented utility back, Wandisile Simelane, as part of their arsenal going into the 2022/23 season.
The 24-year-old, who seamlessly shows his versatility at centre, wing and fullback, has slotted in like a hand to a glove at Loftus Versfeld since joining the Tshwane-based side in their pre-season preparations.
Apart from the warm welcome and the wit of new teammates Cornal Hendricks and Morne Steyn which has stuck out for Simelane, it is the work ethic and high standards that the team has set that has impressed the former Junior Bok star in his few weeks at Loftus.
“It’s been an awesome start for me at the Bulls. The guys have really welcomed and embraced me into the team,” Simelane said.
“We are all working hard, challenging each other – it’s really refreshing to witness.
🚨 Wandisile Simelane is a Vodacom Bull 🚨 One of the countries brightest young stars, Simelane has established himself as an electric, fleet-footed game breaker 🔥
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) July 8, 2022
“Andre [Volsteedt, Bulls strength and conditioning coach] has been pushing us really hard and we have no doubt that the results will only be positive once we get into the swing of things in-season.”
‘Wandi’ as he is affectionately known, is no stranger to the United Rugby Championship and Currie Cup where he has produced some stellar performances for his former team, the Lions.
With the excitement of playing in these two competitions, he expressed his eagerness to contribute to the Bulls’ cause and further make an impact in the upcoming inaugural participation in the Champions Cup.
“I’ve found the URC to be quite challenging. It is a different challenge to Super Rugby which we were used to. In addition to the different styles of rugby, there is also the cold weather to contend with in the North,” he said.
“We are now also looking forward to playing in the Champions Cup, which will bring its own new challenges. We are just excited to play top opposition.
“I really can’t tell you how we as a group are excited about the upcoming season. There is also a comforting sense of calmness and confidence in the team which makes it more exciting for me to play with this group of players and play for our coaches to see how far we can go in all competitions.
“I think we would be under-valuing ourselves if our goal was not to win everything – the URC, Champions Cup and Currie Cup. We certainly have the drive, commitment and belief that we can be competitive in all.”
— Vodacom United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial_RSA) January 22, 2022
A highlight for Simelane in his move across the Jukskei River is the opportunity to work with a mentor he has long admired – Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.
“Coach Jake is widely respected given all that he has achieved as a world-class coach. So, I have no doubts that there is so much knowledge I can gain from a coach of his stature,” Simelane said.
“I did not even think twice when the opportunity to work under him came about. I can only become a better player.”
In addition to focusing on becoming part of the core of the Bulls team and contributing to its success, the elusive backline player continues to harbour ambitions of reaching greater heights in his playing career.
“Part of my individual goals is to become a Springbok sooner rather than later. Every rugby player aspires to play for their country, it is no different for me,” he revealed.
“I will strive to do my best in the blue jersey and can only hope that it will be enough to open doors for me to take my career a step further.”
*Photo credit: Johan Rynners (Bulls)