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VIDEO: Nortjé - 'Coach Franco knows Loftus well'

VIDEO: The Bulls will welcome back captain Ruan Nortjé to lead the herd against table-toppers Glasgow Warriors in Round 16 of the United Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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It is a welcome return for one of the leaders in their pack alongside World Cup winner Marco van Staden.

It is a ‘must-win’ match for the Bulls, as they jockey for a top-four position ahead of the play-offs.

Glasgow Warriors is coached by Springbok Franco Smith, who knows Loftus intimately.

His team dispatched Zebre 40-9 in their last outing.

Their hopes of finishing top of the pile hinge almost entirely on their tour of South Africa – where they will need at least one victory from their encounters with the Bulls and Lions.

The obvious goal is to win both, but that starts with a difficult Loftus Versfeld outing

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Glasgow is in the fight for the top two.

When Smith was appointed there was little fanfare but he turned Glasgow into a team of grafters and entertainers.

Among their stars are lock Richie Gray, one of the most senior Scottish players, and their backs have big names like Huw Jones, Ali Price, Kyle Steyn, and Sione Tuipulotu.

The Warriors love to play a fast-running game with their dangerous backs while they are also the team that has scored the most maul tries in the competition.

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The challenge to counter on both fronts for the Bulls is real and Nortjé is all too aware.

The lock sat down with media this week ahead of their date with the Warriors after being out of action for around four weeks with a hamstring injury.

“They play at a very high tempo. It is exactly what we also want to do at Loftus. We have to be ready for anything, and be as physical as possible,” he said.

“I think that is going to be a big factor.

“They have good strong ball carriers and it will be important for us to slow their ball down. That is definitely where we can slow down their momentum a bit.

“And you could see from teams that have done that against them have gotten good results.”

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The Bulls’ Director of Rugby Jake White would have prepared his troops for what they were in for. And that would have included a short course on the ins and outs of Franco Smith and his background as a clever player who became a clever coach.

“Coach Franco knows everything about Loftus and how to play here,” Nortjé said.

“We told the players to focus on what we can do.

“We don’t want to put all the focus on them and what they bring, how fast they play and how good they are.

“I think it is important not to forget what we want to do and how we can play at a good pace and when we execute very well.

“They are a very dynamic team and have scored the most maul tries.

“It makes your preparation tough because you don’t know what to expect.

“That is going to be a big battle for us.

“That is one we are excited for. As the Bulls pack, we take pride in our ability to dominate in the set-piece battles.”

 

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