Vodacom Bulls director of rugby Jake White believes recently acquired Ruan Combrinck is best suited to playing fullback and is eager to see how he “fits in” against Connacht.
Combrinck was part of the dominant Lions team that reached three Super Rugby finals between 2016 and 2018 and his performances on the wing saw him gain selection for the Springboks where he earned seven Test caps in 2016.
He signed for Stade Français in 2019 but made just four appearances before returning to South Africa where White recruited him. The man who guided the Boks to 2007 Rugby World Cup glory believes Combrinck has been wasted on the wing and “(fullback) is probably the game that suits him the most.”
Combrinck was named to start at No 15 in the United Rugby Championship match against Irish side Connacht on Friday and White says the conditions are perfect for the 31-year-old to play an influential role for the Bulls.
“The conditions will be all about kicking and territory, especially with the wind,” White said on Thursday. “It’s going to be difficult for him at times too, I understand that. But this game isn’t going to be about attack.
“Ruan is really solid. He’s safe under the high ball, kicks with both feet and he’s a Springbok. He’s got a chance to play fullback now. We’ve been lucky to have David Kriel, who’s played the majority of the time I’ve been here, so we need to find another option.
“If this selection comes off, we’ll have another option and the opportunity to further explore different backlines. It’s important for us to see how Ruan fits in.”
White also believes the availability of Springbok duo Bismarck du Plessis and Embrose Papier off the bench will give the Bulls an advantage later in the game.
“We believe their influence will be crucial at the back end of this game,” he said. “To be fair to Bismarck, I would’ve started him on the bench last week too had it not been the occasion of us playing Leinster in Dublin.
“It was a good opportunity for him to get on the field and help the youngsters with the pressure. He’s (on the bench) this week for no other reason than us feeling it’s appropriate to use his experience in the second half.
“Embrose knows there’s an opportunity here. The Springboks have shown recently that they’re not scared to blood scrumhalves. Embrose has to play to get himself into the pecking order again. I’m looking forward to him playing – the quicker he gets back onto the field, the better.”
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