Why Jake is not willing to 'gamble' in Final
INTERVIEW: Naming midfield greenhorn Marco Jansen van Vuren to face off against one of the world’s premier centres in a Currie Cup Final may well be perceived as a massive gamble.
However, Bulls coach Jake White is adamant that retreaded scrumhalf Marco Jansen van Vuren is less of a risk against Lukhanyo Am than what Stedman Gans will be with a dodgy hamstring.
Gans, the Springbok Sevens star, has been a revelation as a combination with veteran Cornal Hendricks in the Bulls midfield.
However, a hamstring injury has ruled him out ahead of last week’s semifinal win over the Lions and he has not recovered sufficiently to convince the coach that he is ready for the rigours of a grand finale.
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“At this stage Stedman Gans is a risk,” the Bulls coach said of the hamstring niggle that kept him out of the semifinal.
White said if Gans start and he aggravates the hamstring injury after 15 or 20 minutes, they could end up being a player short towards the end of the match.
“He [Gans] understands that and at the end of the day [his replacement] Marco [Jansen van Vuuren] did a fine job last week and this gives him a chance for another game alongside Cornal [Hendricks in the midfield].”
The issue is that Jansen van Vuren is not really a midfielder.
He started life out as a scrumhalf and the 24-year-old has only recently started venturing out wider – away from the No.9 jersey.
Jansen van Vuren first earned a provincial call-up at primary school level in 2009, when he was included in the Falcons’ Under-13 Craven Week side. In 2012, he was once again selected by the East Rand-based union to play at the Under-16 Grant Khomo Week competition.
He then played in the Under-18 Craven Week in 2013 and was included in the 2013 South African Schools squad for the next two years – 2013 and 2014.
In all those teams he was selected as a scrumhalf, the same position he made his senior debut for the Lions in 2015. He played 27 times in domestic competitions for the Lions and four times in Super Rugby, before he had a brief stint with the Falcons back in 2019.
Jake White gave him an opportunity in Pretoria
He has had some cameos on the wing and last week started in the midfield.
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White said that while Gans may argue that he is ready to play in the final, the risk is too much.
“[However,] it is a hell of a risk in a Final if a player lasts just 10 or 15 minutes and you bring a reserve on,” White told a virtual media briefing in the build-up to Saturday’s Currie Cup Final showdown with the Sharks.
“If you then have to go to injury time or extra time, as has happened in finals, you suddenly have one less reserve.
“It’s tough for Gans, as he would have liked to have been part of the Final.
“I am happy with Marco [Jansen van Vuren]. He played SA Schools two years [in a row], he has been around the block, he is a tough guy and he defended well for a guy who came into his first game there, especially against the Lions – who stretch you and ask questions in that channel [outside centre],” the Bulls Director of Rugby said.
“I have massive respect for Lukhanyo Am, who is one of the best players in the world.
“However, it is not just about one player. It is about a system, about players around him and confidence.”