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[Super Rugby 2017] South African Teams - Pre-Season

TRF_heineken

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So it's very slow and quiet at the office, I thought I'd start a thread in order to get the Saffas in the mood of the upcoming 2017 Super Rugby season. Please feel free to add your views below. But since none of the Squads have been finalised we'll have to go on what we know so far and try to work around that. I'll do it in Alphabetical order.

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Bulls.png

The Bulls started last season with a lot of new faces, not only on the field, but also in the coaching box too. Under Nollis Marais, there has been a significant change in how the Bulls play, where their backline became one of their key weapons in attack, and wingers such as Travis Ismaiel and Jamba Ulengo, scoring plenty of tries. During the Currie Cup tournament, they continued their upward curve, whilst fielding an even younger, more inexperienced side than they had during the Super Rugby tournament, and made it all the way to the Semi-finals, something that the Bulls had a struggle with in the past couple of years.

They were marred by injuries to key players such as Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein, and the surprize package in Warwick Gelant in 2016, with most of their players having serious injuries keeping them out for at least 6 months. The good news is that all these guys are either fully recovered, or in the final stages of their recovery, with Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein who joined the squad in December for a training camp.

As far as signing go, the Bulls have been rather quiet on this front, which is rather strange for them as they are usually one of the teams who make signings of at least 3 - 7 players each season. So far they have made only 3 signings, of which one of the signings, is a return for Shaun Adendorff to the Bulls who was with the 7's and Boland Currie Cup team. The big signing they made, was that of Lood De Jager, and together with RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins, the Bulls will again have a formidable lock team, like the days of Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw.

Adriaan Strauss will be the captain for 2017, and since his retirement from international rugby, he'll have bit less pressure on him than in the past, hopefully this will cause him playing with a bit more vigour as he'll have a good rest after the Super Rugby tournament.

Possible 23 for the Bulls:

1. Lizo Gqoboka
2. Adriaan Strauss
3. Trevor Nyakane
4. Lood De Jager (Cheetahs)
5. RG Snyman
6. Roelof Smit
7. Jannes Kirsten
8. Jacques Potgieter (Waratahs/Sharks)

9. Rudy Paige
10. Handre Pollard
11. Jamba Ulengo
12. Jan Serfontein
13. Jesse Kriel
14. Travis Ismaiel
15. Warwick Gelant

16. Edgar Marutlule (Kings)
17. Pierre Schoeman
18. Jacobie Adriaanse (Kings)
19. Jason Jenkins
20. Hanro Liebenberg
21. Piet Van Zyl
22. Francois Brummer
23. Burger Odendaal

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Currie Cup Champions! The Cheetahs, much like the Bulls started rather fresh and clean in 2016. Their new coach, Franco Smith, was under a bit more pressure than his Bulls counterpart in that his team srtuggled more in the Super Rugby tournament. But like most coaches who are their salt worth, he saw where his team's crack were, and started to find ways to fill those gaps, and in the Currie Cup, they were invincible. Winning every single match they played, and usually by a large margin. Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule were deadly out wide, and scored some amazing tries, which inevitably lead to Petersen being called up to the Springboks for the EOYT.

The Cheetahs haven't made a lot of signings, and rather went for the plan in promoting their players from the youth squads. But the problem the Cheetahs always havem is the other teams, snapping up their players, which was evident in the Bulls luring Lood De Jager away from Bloemfontein.

Under the captaincy of Francois Venter, the Cheetahs have an enigmatic leader, who's examples both on and off the field, have made his teammates follow him with fervor. Venter, who seems to be one of those players that gets better with every season, will in all likelihood continue his great form of 2016 and with him being one of the newest Springboks, will be out to show that he's no one-hit wonder.

The main Concern for the Cheetahs are if they will be able to pick up where they left off after their triumph in the Currie Cup, or will it be hangover they just won't be able to shrug off so quickly??

Likely Cheetahs 23:

1. Ox Nche
2. Torsten van Jaarsveld
3. Danie Mienie
4. Francois Uys
5. Reniel Hugo
6. Paul Schoeman
7. Uzair Cassiem
8. Oupa Mohoje

9. Shaun Venter
10. Niel Marais
11. Raymond Rhule
12. Francois Venter
13. William Small-Smith
14. Sergeal Petersen
15. Clayton Blommetjies

16. Aranos Coetzee
17. Joseph Dweba
18. Luan De Bruin
19. Carl Wegner
20. Boom Prinsloo
21. Tian Meyer
22. Fred Zeilinga
23. Rayno Benjamin

Southern_Kings.jpg

The Kings, What to say about the Kings?? Well, they've lost a bunch of their best players, like Marutlule, who has joined the Bulls, and all their players played as amateurs during the Currie Cup, so the question will be, how competitive will they be?? Basically it's the same story as last year, but with less known players, and a new coach.

As far as finances goes, I wonder who they will get as their main sponsor and whether the funds will be enough to satisfy the players, and if they will even get paid every month and on time??

I don't know what else to say about the Kings, other than they will again be the laughing stock of the SA teams. Wooden Spooners for sure.

Possible 23 for Kings:

1. Schalk Ferreira
2. Martin Bezuidenhout
3. Ross Geldenhuys (Highlanders)
4. Irne Herbst (Bulls)
5. Wandile Putuma
6. Chris Cloete
7. Andisa Ntsila
8. Ruaan Lerm (Lions)

9. James Hall
10. Lionel Cronje
11. Malcolm Jaer
12. Neil Maritz
13. Waylon Murray
14. Wandile Mjekevu
15. Chrysander Botha

16. Schalk van Der Merwe (Toulon)
17. Tango Balekile
18. Dayan van Der Westhuizen (Bulls)
19. Cameron Lindsay
20. CJ Velleman
21. Ricky Schroeder
22. Garrick Mattheus
23. Jurgen Visser

Lions.png

The Lions, Finalists in the 2016 Super Rugby and Currie Cup. Lost both finals. But that will just add more fuel to the Joburg outfit's fire. Under Johan Ackermann the Lions have become the torch in how South African teams should play, and how they can be able to play with ball in hand and win the majority of their games.

The Lions were exciting to watch, and most of their players were rightfully selected for the Boks. But then they crumbled. Elton Jantjies was brilliant in the Lions jumper, but in the Green (and White) Bok jersey he was pathetic. Their charismatic leader, Warren Whiteley was just another shadow on the field, and apart from one good run down the touchline, he was anonymous as a bok.

Hopefully everything bad about 2016, was left in 2016 for the Lions players. If they can emulate what they did in the Super Rugby last year, and become even better in some of their weak areas, they will again be the SA team to beat. With Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Faf De Klerk, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrink and Malcolm Marx, they have a strong leadership group, who has now also been part of the international setup, something that was lacking in the Lions camps of the past.

Will Ackermann have a few more tricks up his sleeves of will last year's revival be short lived??

Possible Lions 23:

1. Dylan Smith
2. Malcolm Marx
3. Ruan Dreyer
4. Franco Mostert
5. Marvin Orie (Bulls)
6. Jaco Kriel
7. Warwick Tecklenburg
8. Warren Whiteley

9. Faf De Klerk
10. Elton Jantjies
11. Courtnal Skosan
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
13. Lionell Mapoe
14. Ruan Combrink
15. Andries Coetzee

16. Sti Sithole
17. Akker van der Merwe
18. Julian Redelinghuys
19. Andries Ferreira
20. Ruan Ackermann
21. Ross Cronje
22. Jaco van der Walt
23. Howard Mnisi

Sharks.png

The Sharks, have been busy. They have a new coach in Robert Du Preez, getting rid of Gary Gold, who a lot felt was a bit of dead weight for the exciting players the Sharks have in their arsenal. Not only that, the Sharks, as usual, made some purchases, and I think they made clever signings, than what they did in the past. The biggest WTF! however, was the signing of Frenchman, Clement Poitrenaud. But, if he does the same as Michalak, he might be the right guy in helping the Sharks backline counter attack. Especially now that the Sharks have lost the services of Willie Le Roux. And with the youngster Curwin Bosch, the Sharks could use someone of Poitrenaud's experience in helping the youngsters develop.

The Sharks will undoubtedly have a very young team with the additions of Bosch and Jeremy Ward in the backline, as well as the Du Preez twins in the forwards. But I think the Sharks will be a team to watch out for in 2017. Robert Du Preez has already shown that his team will work for scraps if needs be, and that they will be uncompromising. They will be like a pack of hyenas, and if they get a sniff, they will pounce.

Possible Sharks 23:

1. Tendai Mtawarira
2. Franco Marais
3. Coenie Oosthuizen
4. Ruan Botha
5. Stephan Lewies
6. Keegan Daniel
7. Jean-Luc Du Preez
8. Dan Du Preez

9. Cobus Reinach
10. Pat Lambie
11. Lwazi Mvovo
12. Andre Esterhuizen
13. Jeremy Ward
14. S'bura Sithole
15. Clement Poitrenaud

16. Thomas Du toit
17. Chilliboy Ralepelle
18. Lourens Adriaanse
19. Giant Mtyanda
20. Jean Deysel
21. Michael Claassens
22. Curwin Bosch
23. Garth April

Stormers.png

The Stormers. There has been a lot of turmoil at WP Rugby, and they even went through liquadation just recently. Add to that they have lost a few stalwarts for them, most recently Scarra Ntubeni and Oli Kebble. For some reason, I think the Stormers won't be as competitive as the other SA teams, and this could add to their woes and might result in Robbie Fleck being out of a job.

I think the most exciting news out of the Stormers camp is that Seabelo Senatla has committed himself to 15-man rugby for 2017, and will be available for the Stormers all season. I hope that he shows his class in XV's as he has done in 7's. He is the guy everybody is talking about making the Springbok team, and his size and pace is something that not a lot of teams will be able to handle properly in the corners.

The ongoing off-field battle between WP Rugby and their sponsor Aeterno will certainly be a problem for their administrators, and with the added pressure of playing at the Cape Town Stadium instead of Newlands Stadium, the question will be if the Stormers will be able to rely on their beloved home ground, to eek out victories, or will the Cape Crusaders and their flock be the death of Newlands especially since the Stormers will be facing the NZ teams this year.

There are a lot more questions than answers at the moment for the Stormers and only time will tell if they will be able to sweep away their problems.

Possible Stormers 23:

1. JC Janse van Rensburg
2. Bongi Mbonambi
3. Frans Malherbe
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Pieter-Steph Du Toit
6. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
7. Siya Kolisi
8. Nizaam Carr

9. Louis Schreuder
10. Robert Du Preez
11. Seabelo Senatla
12. Damian De Allende
13. Juan De Jongh
14. Leolin Zas
15. Cheslin Kolbe

16. Alistair Vermaak
17. Ramone Samuels
18. Wilco Louw
19. JD Shickerling
20. Rynardt Elstadt
21. Jano Vermaak
22. Jean-Luc Du Plessis
23. Dillyn Leyds

**Disclaimer: Please note that the names used in the squads are merely my opinion, and chances are that some of the players mentioned might not feature at all for their teams.**
 

Cruz_del_Sur

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I am really looking forward to the Bulls vs Lions game. I am very curious and anxious to see that 10-12-13 clash.


10. Elton Jantjies 10. Handre Pollard
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg 12. Jan Serfontein
13. Lionell Mapoe 13. Jesse Kriel
 

SomeOke

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Thanks for doing this Heineken, I'm just about in the mood to start getting hyped up for some Super Rugby.
You definitely gave a fair assessment. One thing you touched on but didn't really go into that much is the conference playing the Aussies vs the conference playing the Kiwi's.
It's fair to say that the conference playing the Aussies will have an advantage in terms of fixtures, if anything the Kiwi teams will be tougher this year with the Blues looking good with a few signings (although I say every year the Blues will be good and they have failed to do so in the last couple seasons).

This means that the Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls will automatically have a tougher time, I would say it's a fair shout to say that the only team that will make the play-off in this conference will be the winner. For me if Pollard remains fit that has to be the Bulls, they have looked strong in the currie cup and they have a very well rounded squad with a good mix of tactical players, a strong pack and some deadly finishers. Cheetahs won't have the fire-power I don't think but they may achieve a few upsets this year. The Stormers have a great side on paper but with all the off the ball drama that happened last year and Robbie Fleck showing no sign of being able to create a tactically sound strategy for the team I'm afraid we will fall short this year. I can't see us beating any of the Kiwi sides, we play the Cheetahs twice (a Bogie side) and I don't seeing us having the edge against any of the other SA sides (barring the Kings who we play once), makes me wonder where our wins are going to come from. I hope to be proven wrong.

On the other conference, suddenly the Lions, Sharks and Jags have the easier fixtures, and considering the Lions made the finals last year, and haven't lost any players or their coach, it's hard to imagine they won't be the best side in SA. The only worry is that some of their lads may have lost confidence from playing for a woeful Springbok side. Sharks are a completely unknown quantity, they have been pretty dire in recent years and I still think their backs are a bit thin, I personally hope Bosch starts rather than Poitrenaud but I doubt they would have bought a player to have him languish on the bench. I don't share your optimism but they could be good. Hopefully the Jaguares will be better this year, after a year of hard-knocks they may be better prepared for SR. I think we'll see an improvement from them but I doubt they will be ***le contenders.

The Kings? Meh. Free wins and fantasy points essentially.


Quick question is the schedule for the pre-season matches out?
 
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Sker

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I've obviously been off the loop for a long time, did Willie get snapped up by an EU club?

Oh and calling it now, Cheetahs vs Lions Super Rugby final, totally dominate all NZ and Aus teams.

Springboks however to lose all matches except one, maybe two.


I like my dream world, it's slightly realistic.
 

TRF_heineken

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Thanks for doing this Heineken, I'm just about in the mood to start getting hyped up for some Super Rugby.
You definitely gave a fair assessment. One thing you touched on but didn't really go into that much is the conference playing the Aussies vs the conference playing the Kiwi's.
It's fair to say that the conference playing the Aussies will have an advantage in terms of fixtures, if anything the Kiwi teams will be tougher this year with the Blues looking good with a few signings (although I say every year the Blues will be good and they have failed to do so in the last couple seasons).

This means that the Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls will automatically have a tougher time, I would say it's a fair shout to say that the only team that will make the play-off in this conference will be the winner. For me if Pollard remains fit that has to be the Bulls, they have looked strong in the currie cup and they have a very well rounded squad with a good mix of tactical players, a strong pack and some deadly finishers. Cheetahs won't have the fire-power I don't think but they may achieve a few upsets this year. The Stormers have a great side on paper but with all the off the ball drama that happened last year and Robbie Fleck showing no sign of being able to create a tactically sound strategy for the team I'm afraid we will fall short this year. I can't see us beating any of the Kiwi sides, we play the Cheetahs twice (a Bogie side) and I don't seeing us having the edge against any of the other SA sides (barring the Kings who we play once), makes me wonder where our wins are going to come from. I hope to be proven wrong.

On the other conference, suddenly the Lions, Sharks and Jags have the easier fixtures, and considering the Lions made the finals last year, and haven't lost any players or their coach, it's hard to imagine they won't be the best side in SA. The only worry is that some of their lads may have lost confidence from playing for a woeful Springbok side. Sharks are a completely unknown quantity, they have been pretty dire in recent years and I still think their backs are a bit thin, I personally hope Bosch starts rather than Poitrenaud but I doubt they would have bought a player to have him languish on the bench. I don't share your optimism but they could be good. Hopefully the Jaguares will be better this year, after a year of hard-knocks they may be better prepared for SR. I think we'll see an improvement from them but I doubt they will be ***le contenders.

The Kings? Meh. Free wins and fantasy points essentially.


Quick question is the schedule for the pre-season matches out?

The pre-season matches schedule isn't out yet, to be honest, everything is very quiet on the rugby front in SA at the moment. I know the Bulls are supposed to play a warm-up game here in Polokwane like they do every year, but no news on that as of yet. If I find anything about this, I'll add it to this discussion.

I didn't want to talk about the conferences, as I wanted to focus mostly on the teams and not their opponents.

I've obviously been off the loop for a long time, did Willie get snapped up by an EU club?

Oh and calling it now, Cheetahs vs Lions Super Rugby final, totally dominate all NZ and Aus teams.

Springboks however to lose all matches except one, maybe two.


I like my dream world, it's slightly realistic.

Ja, Willie het gewaai.
 

Sker

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The pre-season matches schedule isn't out yet, to be honest, everything is very quiet on the rugby front in SA at the moment. I know the Bulls are supposed to play a warm-up game here in Polokwane like they do every year, but no news on that as of yet. If I find anything about this, I'll add it to this discussion.

I didn't want to talk about the conferences, as I wanted to focus mostly on the teams and not their opponents.



Ja, Willie het gewaai.

:/

Willie went from my favorite player of all time and me literally gushing every time he gets the ball to... well, to Willie le Roux.

See, this is what happens to good players when they leave the Cheetahs, they stop being good.


In al seriousness though, I'm excited to see the Sharks and Cheetahs in action for the super rugby. I think the Lions will do great again, definitely play-offs.
 

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So the Stormers have started the ball rolling with announcing 5 new signings for the Super Rugby season as well as confirming their pre-season fixtures.

Their signings are:
Ramone Samuels - Hooker - Signed from the Lions
Johan du Toit (Brother of Pieter-Steph Du Toit) - Lock & Loose Forward - Signed from the Sharks
Stefan de Wit - Loose forward - Signed from the Lions
SP Marais - Fullback - Signed from the Bulls
Dan Kriel - Utility Back - Signed from the Bulls

Pre-season fixtures:
28 January - Stormers vs. Cheetahs - Harare, Zimbabwe
4 February - Stormers vs. SWD - George
11 February - Stormers vs. Lions - Newlands, Cape Town

The Lions have also announced their Pre-season fixtures:
28 January - Lions vs. Bulls - Harare, Zimbabwe
4 February - Lions vs. SupaBarbarians - Ellis Park, Johannesburg
11 February - Stormers vs. Lions - Newlands, Cape Town
 

Sker

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Do you know if they'll broadcast some of these matches, Hein?
 

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Do you know if they'll broadcast some of these matches, Hein?

It's too early to say. They usually broadcast the last week's matches, but it's way too early to say what will be broadcasted.

What I know so far is that the matches being played in Zimbabwe, is part of a rugby festival, and that these matches won't be broadcasted by Supersport.
 

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Thanks for the info Heineken!
Will catch any pre-season matches I can.

SP Marais, is a decent replacement if Cheslin gets injured, we're not exactly spoilt for choice in that position so a little more depth doesn't hurt, despite Marais being a bit average.
Dan Kriel apparently has a lot of potential but I haven't seen much of him live. Unfortunately the Stormers is not where young talent has traditionally prospered.
 
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Firstly Great preview @TRF_heineken.
Media reports has been indicating that the stormers has focussed on skills training more than in the past. Working on catching and passing amongst others in pressure situations. I feel this is the way to go adressing some of our many flaws. I also hope that this was decided at the indaba and that the other Super rugby coaches would also be doing it. Nothing irks me more than seeing fully proffesional players knocking the ball so often. Around 2007 if your team was behind and the clock strikes 80 mins and they have possesion you could have counted on them to work their way up the field and have a decent crack at scoring a try. Now most SA teams try this but just knock it on two or three fases in and the game is over. So i give a thumbs up to any extra skills training and specifically in pressure situations.

Thirdly lets hope Dan Kriel can stay injury free at the Stormers with the change in medical staff and fulfill his potential in becoming a Springbok from what ive heard he is better than his brother.
 
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TRF_heineken

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Firstly Great preview @TRF_heineken.
Media reports has been indicating that the stormers has focussed on skills training more than in the past. Working on catching and passing amongst others in pressure situations. I feel this is the way to go adressing some of our many flaws. I also hope that this was decided at the indaba and that the other Super rugby coaches would also be doing it. Nothing irks me more than seeing fully proffesional players knocking the ball so often. Around 2007 if your team was behind and the clock strikes 80 mins and they have possesion you could have counted on them to work their way up the field and have a decent crack at scoring a try. Now most SA teams try this but just knock it on two or three fases in and the game is over. So i give a thumbs up to any extra skills training and specifically in pressure situations.

Thirdly lets hope Dan Kriel can stay injury free at the Stormers with the change in medical staff and fulfill his potential in becoming a Springbok from what ive heard he is better than his brother.

Well from the reports coming from the camps, there is definitely a bigger focus on skills training than in the past. If you read between the lines in some of those articles, you can see that the coaches are adapting to that area in trying to bring that into their gameplans.

So far it's the Stormers that are making the most noise in the media. Stephan De Witt, one of the new recruits have broken his ankle and will be out for the season. Then there is the report that they are battling to keep Huw Jones.

As for Dan Kriel, I wish him well at the Stormers, he was certainly underused by the Bulls with all their Springbok players in the squad, and played mostly a filler role. He is more a centre than his brother, but can play anywhere in the backline, even fly half.
 
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Sker

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Ok, I'm feeling the hype a little. Not letting myself feel anything about the Springbok games - don't want to disappoint myself.

The SuperRugby though, that should be good.
 

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I'm really looking forward for seeing the Lions-Bulls back lines clash, it's basically a Springbok trial match. It would be great to see Dan Kriel get picked ahead of guys like De Allende and De Jongh, actually giving him a chance. It would be awesome to see Jesse and Dan face off in the centres during the Stormers-Bulls games, see which brother comes out on top. I actually would put a hand up for the other wing in the Cheetahs squad, Mosolwa Mafuma to be played ahead of Ryno on the bench or even get a start. I went to the same school as him and watched him play for the First Team. He is an extremely dangerous winger, and he won the Varsity Cup Player That Rocks award, scoring the 2nd most tries in the competition. He should be backed in a couple of big matches, and will probably play a couple of games against the lower ranked teams aka Force, Kings, Sunwolves. I'm really excited for the Cheetahs this year, they look to finally have the balance between Defense and Attack that they've lacked in recent years. All in All, I still think the Lions will be the top South African side, I just wonder if playing Aussie teams will put them at a disadvantage, like the Stormers last year, who weren't able to keep up with the pace of NZ teams after playing Aussies teams.
 

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So this is an important week for the SA teams. It's their final chance to sign players for the upcoming season, and to finalize their squads. This coming weekend the teams are playing their first warm-up games.

I see Nollis Marais has been talking to the media about the Bulls season ahead and what he calls his month of hell where he plays the Crusaders, Highlanders, Lions and Hurricanes in consecutive weeks in May. So that's going to be very tough. Although all those games are being played in SA, it's still going to be very tough to win all those matches.
 

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I heard that Nolis was keen to try and develop Kriel as a full back again. Somewhat unfortunate considering how much potential Gelant has.

On the other had if you view it as a swap of Ismaiel for Odendaal then I can get behind it.
 

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I heard that Nolis was keen to try and develop Kriel as a full back again. Somewhat unfortunate considering how much potential Gelant has.

On the other had if you view it as a swap of Ismaiel for Odendaal then I can get behind it.

Well, we'll have to wait and see. There's rumours that Ismaiel might be going to the NH even before the Super Rugby tournament starts, which would open a spot for a player on the fringes.

With SP Marais joining the Stormers, our choice at fullback is Gelant and Kriel. So I can see Kriel and Gelant taking turns at starting at fullback. Add to that, the amount of good centres the Bulls currently have in Odendaal, Serfontein, Swanepoel, JJ Engelbrecht, JT Jackson and Johnny Kotze.

My guess is that Engelbrecht might be used more on the wing than centre, especially now that Bjorn Basson is also gone.
 
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