DYLAN JACK looks at the Vodacom Bulls players who could step up and play at openside following Marco van Staden’s move to the Leicester Tigers.
Starting with possibly the most obvious name, Coetzee will join the Bulls from Ulster on a three-year deal in July, once he completes his duties in the PRO14.
Coetzee has experience at openside flank as he was primarily utilised in the No 6 jersey during his time with the Sharks. Added to this, Coetzee still has the breakdown nous that would make him a natural opensider.
The only issue here, is that Coetzee has bulked up resoundingly in order to play at No 8 for Ulster and is now perhaps a better fit in that position than at openside.
Someone who could make the most of Van Staden’s departure, Carr has been entrusted with both the Bulls captaincy and the openside position during the team’s first two pre-season fixtures.
Carr certainly gave a reminder of his abilities in the first pre-season fixture against the EP Elephants, scoring a brace of tries as the Bulls cruised to a comfortable victory.
The Springbok was starved of regular starting time during Super Rugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup, but is clearly being given an opportunity to make that openside position his own.
The 21-year-old Louw joined the Bulls from the Kings after the Eastern Cape franchise’s liquidation last year and shone whenever he was given an opportunity.
Even though he has played mostly at blindside flank in Pretoria, he has the skills to play at openside. As he told Independent Online, Louw sees himself as someone who can adapt to any position in the back row.
‘There are many guys I base my play on, but I try to have a mixture of the best of all,’ Louw said. ‘I can’t say there’s one guy who I base my play on 100%, but Richie McCaw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen … I try to roll all of them into one: good flank on the ground, good defence, strong, running rugby.’
Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White chats about talented youngster Elrigh Louw, playing in empty stadiums once a domestic competition kicks off, and facing the British & Irish Lions next year. https://t.co/5PKb8WRINe pic.twitter.com/6Ndqu2A9Nr
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 11, 2020
Finishing on a someone who has perhaps fallen off the radar in Pretoria, Steenkamp did not play a minute of rugby during either Super Rugby Unlocked or the Currie Cup.
The 28-year-old previously shared the openside duties with Van Staden under previous head coach Pote Human, but it does not look like he is in Jake White’s plans.
However, if he is given the opportunity, Steenkamp has shown in the past that he has the ability to tough it out at the breakdown and get heavily involved in open play as well.
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