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VIDEO: 'The altitude, I felt it' says Bulls flank

VIDEO: The four years spent playing for the Exeter Chiefs came back to bite Bulls flank Jannes Kirsten when he returned to the playing field for the Bulls against Ospreys at Loftus Versfeld a fortnight ago.

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Kirsten moved back to his place of birth, Pretoria, in July last year but soon after picked up a nasty foot injury during training.

It kept him sidelined for 11 months, but two weeks ago he made his comeback against Ospreys, playing for the last 20 minutes of the game.

Talking about that game, the flame-haired flank couldn’t help but give a little chuckle at the memory.

“A bit stressed before the game, as you should, it keeps you sharp. It was a good game to get back to. I played around 20 minutes and everything felt good.

“The altitude – haha – growing up here it never bothered me, but when I came back, you do feel it. I felt it during the game,” a smiling Kirsten recalled.

“But everything went well and it is just good to play again.

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“Hopefully, I can contribute to the rest of the season. It’s difficult to come back towards the end of the season.”

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His knowledge of the European conditions, referees, and teams were some of the reasons the Bulls lured Kirsten back to Loftus Versfeld.

“I think I’ve learned a lot from European rugby moving between competitions with the Premiership and the European Cup.

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“The way you prepare for a European game in certain terms is different, learning about the different referees whereas in the Premiership we had English refereeing standards.

“And then suddenly you move to Europe and you have French refs, Italian refs and that can be an influence.

“Moving from week to week there were slight adjustments you made towards that.”

Looking ahead to the forthcoming clash with the Glasgow Warriors, Kirsten had some good advice for his teammates having firsthand knowledge of Franco Smith’s charges.

“They do stretch you on defence. What they do well is they target the areas with space they create two sides of attack.

“Communication is going to be very important during this game and looking up and seeing what’s in front of you.

“Because that is what they do. They see the space and they attack there.

“Glasgow brings a high tempo and a big set-piece threat. I think they are the best mauling team in the competition.

“The big thing is with teams that bring tempo, you need to stay in control. So it’s not really about adapting, it’s about keeping control, keeping the ball, and doing things on your own terms.

“The most important thing is to stay strong in set-piece, maintain the ball, and stay in control of what you are doing,” he concluded.

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