Bulls duo set to notch up 50 caps

Bulls duo set to notch up 50 caps

Vodacom Bulls duo, Simphiwe Matanzima and Embrose Papier will both notch up their 50th caps in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship when the Tshwane-based outfit takes on Irish counterparts, Munster in round 14 of the 2023/24 season. The Saturday, 20 April clash is set for 17h05 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium and tickets start at R 50.00c from Ticketpro only.


  • Matanzima & Papier get 50th caps
  • Elrigh Louw leads the Vodacom Bulls
  • Coetzee and Nortje are both sidelined by injury
  • Hanekom shifts to flank alongside Ludwig with JF at lock

Both 26-year-olds - Matanzima & Papier - made their tournament debuts during the 2021/22 season and since then, the front-rower (Matanzima) boasts an impeccable 95% tackle success average from the 162 he has made whilst the scrumhalf has notched up 804 metres gained and has 11 tries to show for it.

Papier will line up at halfback alongside flyhalf, Johan Goosen and the pair will direct the flow of traffic with the support of a forward pack that sees Gerhard Steenekamp (loosehead), Johan Grobbelaar (hooker) and Wilco Louw (tight-head) in the front row. Behind them will be the lock combination of Ruan Vermaak and JF van Heerden. To complete the forward’s pack, Cameron Hanekom shifts to the blind side with Reinhardt Ludwig lining up at open-side flank. Elrigh Louw will lead the side from eight.


At the back Sebastien de Klerk will run out at left wing, pairing up with Kurt-Lee Arendse on the right side of the fortress. The centre pairing of David Kriel and Canan Moodie gets another run with Willie Le Roux providing seasoned cover from fullback.


Matanzima forms part of the 5-3 split impact squad which has Akker van der Merwe, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Mpilo Gumede, Zak Burger, Chris Smith and Devon Williams, all on standby to support the starting XV as the team looks to solidify its quest for a place in the knockout phase of the competition.


Director of Rugby, Jake White is hopeful some of the injured troops will return soon and has great confidence in his squad depth.


“I am hopeful that Ruan Nortje will return soon and Marco - who has been side-lined since the Munster game - should be two to three weeks away now. We should be okay over the next couple of weeks and this is an opportunity for the next guy in line,”


On Marcel Coetzee: “Marcel had an operation whilst we were away [at Northampton] and the doctors discovered that it was worse than initially thought and it looks like he will not feature for us for the remainder of this season. He is a big loss for us.”


Asked about the young combination in his forward pack, White says he is excited to see how well they play together.


“It is a very interesting situation where we have a 19-year-old lock, 21-year-old flanks and a captain who is only 23. It is exciting because we have seen how Ludwig and Hanekom have grown quickly and we have seen the growth of Elrigh over the last couple of years. He too [Elrigh] was that age when he started with us. So, this is a combination I am looking forward to seeing because it has everything. It has skill, height, pace and it has youth which comes with energy,”


“We are also playing at altitude, on our field which is generally quick. So having loose forwards who can also run is also a strength for us as well.”


On the race to the final eight, White says the run-in remains very open to everyone.


“The one thing we know about this competition is, like any other competition, is that home-ground advantage at the end is vital. We saw what it has done for the Stormers. Not only does it have financial benefits but the fact that you then play the best teams at home and give yourself a chance to win,”


“This season is still very open, yes with a lot of permutations but all we can do is to make sure we win as many games as we can between now and the end of the regulation rounds of the league, giving ourselves the best possible chance to finish as high as possible.”


On the opposition this weekend, the Vodacom Bulls mentor said: "Munster are the VURC champions for a reason. They beat the Stormers in Cape Town to win it and there aren’t many teams who have gotten that right,”


“It is not only their attack but they have a good team and we are going to take it like a final for us because they are - like the Stormers - the benchmark of the competition. They also know how to win in South Africa,”


“We are going to have to play well to beat them tomorrow.”

VODACOM BULLS vs MUNSTER STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. JF van Heerden, 6. Cameron Hanekom, 7. Reinhardt Ludwig, 8. Elrigh Louw (c), 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Sebastien de Klerk, 12. David Kriel, 13. Canan Moodie, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15. Willie Le Roux

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Akker van der Merwe, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Mpilo Gumede, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Devon Williams

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