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Bulls to field near Bok-less side against Saints - reports

By Ian Cameron
Willie Le Roux of Vodacom Bulls after his side's defeat in the United Rugby Championship match between Leinster and Vodacom Bulls at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Bulls director of rugby Jake White is poised to name a significantly altered lineup for the upcoming Champions Cup quarterfinal against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

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Following gruelling matches against Leinster and Lyon and amidst preparations for their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash with Munster next week, White’s strategy suggests a prioritization of the URC over the Champions Cup.

The 60-year-old has heavily suggested he will be resting key players for the domestic challenge, with reports from SA suggesting the vast bulk of his Springboks have not travelled north to the UK.

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Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White talks about the selection conundrum he faces

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Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White talks about the selection conundrum he faces

Despite not officially announcing the touring squad, Netwerk 24 in SA reports have suggested the bulk of the Bulls’ Boks, including Kurt-Lee Arendse, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Wilco Louw and Gerhard Steenekamp, Marcell Coetzee and Ruan Nortje are all been left behind.

Marco van Staden will also miss out through injury.

The final team selection for the clash with Northampton will be disclosed on Friday.

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“Without giving my squad away, a lot of guys suffered bumps and bruises and a lot of guys need to be looked after as well,” White said – hinting that the team that travelled to Northampton may differ from that which travelled to Dublin a fortnight ago.

“It is one of those difficult decisions for me to make,” White said. “There are a lot of things I have to work on to ensure we can tick as many boxes as we can.”

“Munster [URC Round 14 at Loftus Versfeld] is not going away. It is important to understand that not only do we arrive [from eight different flights] at different times in England, we also arrive at different times [again numerous separate flights] back in South Africa on Monday.”

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With some players landing as late as 14.00 on Monday, training is going to be very complicated ahead of the resumption of the URC.

“We know what happened at Leinster two weeks ago and it is my responsibility to ensure we narrow that gap as quickly as we can.”

Whites refused to outright say he was prioritising the URC however.

“I want to ensure the Bulls are as competitive as we can be, every time we run out,”he said, adding that they want to reach the same standards as Leinster has.

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“Take nothing away from La Rochelle, who won it twice, and Toulouse, who won the Champions Cup five times, Leinster – with their academy and the way they bring players through – is the standard we need to get to.”

White pointed out how over the past five years the Bulls have seen numerous key players move abroad. The likes of Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Ivan van Zyl, Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein and Jessie Kriel all now play their rugby overseas.

“If those guys were training here, we would think differently about competitions. That is where I want to get to and then I will be much more comfortable with where this team is.”

additional reporting Rugby 365

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