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The Fridge back for big derby at Loftus

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bulls welcome back powerhouse tighthead Wilco Louw for the big North-South derby when they host the Stormers in Round 11 of the United Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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Louw was sidelined with a shoulder injury he sustained in Bristol and will slot in the front row with Gerhard Steenekamp and Johan Grobbelaar.

Also back from injury is Zak Burger who has recovered from a knock to his knee in Lyon. He will warm the bench as back-up for Embrose Papier.

Springbok Willie le Roux will watch proceedings from the comfort of the replacement bench but should be vital role as impact player.

Reinhardt Ludwig moves to flank whilst Marcell Coetzee shifts to No. 8 duty.

Jake White, Director of Rugby at the Bulls, did not want to be drawn into his sides’ run of victories against the Stormers.

“Saturday for me, is irrelevant to what has happened before because our growth process is coming together. The calibre of players we have brought in, Akker, Willie, Nizaam and Devon have brought us experience and our combinations are coming together well,” the coach said.

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“It could be tight at the end and if you look at the past games, there haven’t been blowouts against us in the last couple of years, it has always been close encounters. So to have the experience of Springbok players coming on from the bench is going to be vital for us.”

He indicated that it will be vital for his side to pitch up physically and mentally.

“We must pitch up not just physically but also with an understanding of how the game is going to go, showing that we are clever enough and learnt the lessons from the last couple of seasons to understand that they will take the advantage if we give it to them.

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“We have got to be a bit more street-smart about what they are trying to do and what we are trying to do to make sure they don’t do it right,” he explained.

White says matches don’t get any bigger than this encounter with the news that 51 000 have already been sold.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this, besides a World Cup final, for a pool game it probably doesn’t get any bigger than this. Not many provincial players will have played in front of 51 000 people, besides the World Cup winners; there aren’t many provincial players who will have played in front of a big crowd like what is expected and that in itself comes with a challenge for the young guys who have not done that before and we must help them with that.”

Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 7 Reinhardt Ludwig, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortjé (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Akker van der Merwe, 18. Francois Kloppers, 19. JF van Heerden, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Willie Le Roux, 23. Mpilo Gumede

Date: Saturday, March 2
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby (South Africa), Sean Muller (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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