The unsung hero of the Vodacom Bulls backline, Harold Vorster will play a crucial role in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final on Saturday.
When Jake White took over at the Bulls he was quick to make sure that they got back to trusting their traditional strengths, in terms of a strong set piece and kicking game. But over the past few years he has also revolutionised their attack, and the style of play that one has come to expect from the Bulls is vastly different yet equally effective to Heyneke Meyer’s dominant sides of the past.
Meyer, the former Springbok coach, won many titles with the Bulls before becoming the national coach in 2012.
There are certain players who have had praise heaped upon them for their attacking impact, and rightly so as spectators have voiced appreciation for the revival of Cornal Hendricks in the midfield, the flair of young Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie at fullback and the prowess of wing Madosh Tambwe.
But the unsung hero of this Bulls backline, and the glue to their attack, has been centre Harold Vorster. Alongside Hendricks, the two have formed one of the most understated but effective midfield combinations in the league this season.
Where Hendricks was initially playing at 12 when White took charge of the Bulls, Vorster’s arrival in 2021 allowed Hendricks to shift to 13 and the Bulls to field a combination that boasts subtle skill, combined with strength and an unusual amount of speed for a centre pairing.
Earlier this season, when all the purple prose was being written about the outside backs and loose forwards, it was Vorster who White singled out for particular praise.
“Whether he [Vorster] plays with Morne Steyn or Chris Smith on his inside [at flyhalf], he is the voice of that backline. I don’t want to take anything away from a guy like Cornal, who has played extensively for us there previously and is performing so well at 13, but Harold is our general,’ said White.
At 28, Vorster is not new on the scene, but he is one among many in the team who seem to have reached their peak within this particular Bulls set-up.
Most of Vorster’s professional appearances came at the Emirates Lions between 2015 to 2019, before a stint at the Panasonic Wild Knights between 2018 to 2021. His arrival at the Bulls is an example of the astute identification from White in bringing in experienced players who fit the vision of the style of rugby the Bulls are playing.
While Vorster can be physically confrontational at 6ft1 and 94kg, it’s his understanding of space, his speed with the ball and his ability to run lines and command the attack that make him the master of the Bulls offence.
‘You can see he’s not just a basher. He can pass and he talks well. He understands space and sometimes his kicking boot is really important for us, too,’ said White.
Dubbed the general of the Bulls backline by none other than his director of rugby, Harold Vorster has quietly been at the heart of an attack that has found its way to the URC final and scored the most tries of all the South African teams.
Who are you picking? pic.twitter.com/lrt45ln2DZ
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) June 15, 2022
Photo: Gallo Images