VIDEO: Leinster ready for 'brutal' Bulls
The South African teams that are joining the United Rugby Championship will bring in a much stronger level than the country’s previous contingent.
This is the view of Irish and Leinster star Garry Ringrose, who suggested the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers will add a very different dynamic that the Cheetahs and Southern Kings did to Pro Rugby.
Ringrose, 26, was speaking ahead of the opening round of the newly established URC – which will see South Africa’s top team, the Bulls, travel to Dublin to face Ireland’s leading side Leinster next Saturday, September 25.
The first South African team in action are the Lions, who finished last in the seven-team Currie Cup competition. They face Zebre in Parma next Friday, September 24.
The next day the Stormers face Benetton, the Rainbow Cup champions, in Treviso, the Bulls and Leinster go head-to-head in Dublin and Munster host the Sharks in Limerick.
Ringrose, capped 35 times by Ireland and has 80-odd appearances for the four-time European champions Leinster, said South African teams always “pride themselves” on their physicality.
“They build their games on their set pieces,” he told a virtual media briefing, adding that from the international team (Springboks) to the franchises they are “incredibly strong”.
Having been exposed a bit more to the “athletes in the wider channels”, Ringrose believe the SA teams can leave you for dead in terms of their pace.
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“When they get it right, South African teams are incredibly difficult to beat.
“The teams that are joining now will bring in a much stronger level than what we played against in the past,” he said of the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Lions – as opposed to the Cheetahs and Southern Kings.
With the Bulls, South Africa’s form team, first up, Leinster will have a golden opportunity to make an early statement on behalf of Irish rugby.
However, Ringrose warned against playing down the threats of the other SA teams.
“I will never describe any South African team as being an easier one,” the Irish star said.
Having done some homework on the opening round rivals, he described the back-to-back Currie Cup champions as an “incredible” team.
He also dismissed the narrative that South African teams are one-dimensional and coring.
“The Bulls put that to bed, if you look at their last five or six matches – scoring close to 40 points per game.
“They are probably a team that can do it all.”
The other advantage the Bulls have is that captain Marcell Coetzee has an in-depth knowledge of Irish teams, following his five-year stint at Ulster – with 50-off games for the Irish provinces.
“Marcell Coetzee is well-drilled on Leinster,” Ringrose said, adding: “He is clearly a cult-hero at the Bulls now.
“I am sure he will have the guys well-drilled and ready for the challenge at Leinster.
“It is a daunting task for us to prepare for a team we haven’t played before.
“We are facing the in-form [South African] team, coming in hot and we will have to be at our best if we are thinking of coming away with a win.