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Bok prop Steven Kitshoff set for Ulster debut

By Ian Cameron
Springboks and Ulster prop Steven Kitshoff (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Double Rugby World Cup-winning prop, Steven Kitshoff, stands on the brink of making his debut for the Irish province Ulster this weekend against Glasgow Warriors.

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Head Coach Dan McFarland has named Kitshoff among the replacements for the upcoming clash against Warriors in Round 6 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Kitshoff, a seasoned campaigner on the international stage, could add a significant boost to Ulster’s forward pack. The South African prop, known for his scrummaging prowess and work rate around the park, is set to make his entrance off the bench at Scotstoun Stadium this Saturday after playing a crucial role for the Springboks during their most recent World Cup triumph in France.

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Elsewhere Captain Iain Henderson will lead the side, supported by fellow Ireland international Kieran Treadwell in the second row. The front pack undergoes rotation, with Eric O’Sullivan at loosehead, Tom Stewart back at hooker, and Tom O’Toole returning to the tighthead position.

In the backline, the return of Luke Marshall adds experience at inside centre, alongside Ireland prospect James Hume at 13. An in-form Jacob Stockdale, with five tries in four matches, aims to continue his scoring form on the left wing. The back-row features Harry Sheridan, Reuben Crothers, and the Ulster Rugby Academy’s James McNabney, who makes his debut at eight.

The bench Ulster academy hooker Zac Solomon is also in line for his senior debut.

ULSTER: Will Addison, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, John Cooney; Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Iain Henderson (C), Harry Sheridan, Reuben Crothers, James McNabney.

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REPLACEMENTS: Zac Solomon, Steven Kitshoff, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Jake Flannery, Ben Moxham.

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Flankly 13 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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