Why Bulls loose forward recipe works

Thu, 02 May 2013 10:01
Large arno botha bulls boxes Large deon stegmann presser Large dewald potgieter bulls gest Large arno botha boks Large dewald potgieter looks 630 Large deon stegmann bulls2

Jan de Koning chatted to Bulls coach Frans Ludeke about the loose forward resources in Pretoria and what combination works best.

The Arno Botha fan club may be up in arms over his axing from the Bulls starting XV, but the current loose forward combination may just be the most effective for the Bulls.

While Botha has been sensational in his games for the Bulls this season - whether it is coming off the bench or starting - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is backing the seasoned flank combination of Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann to do the job against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Last week, with Stegmann sidelined through a rib injury, Potgieter fulfilled the 'openside' role in the 30-19 win over the Waratahs, while Botha's physicality was used on the 'blindside'.

However, both players ended up playing a similar style and produced comparable stats - Potgieter made seven tackles, produced one off-load, had five runs (for a gain of 20 metres), attended four rucks and won one turnover; while Botha made 10 tackles, had 11 runs (for 101 metres), had one line-break, attended 11 rucks, conceded one penalty and won one turnover.

This week, in Stegmann, the Bulls do have a specialist openside flank, although the coach feels the allround ability of his flanks are their real value.

He suggested that even though Potgieter wears the No.7 jersey - in most South African teams that is the blindside flank - Potgieter does play more like a No.6.

"I feel that every weekend he is in that [openside] role," Ludeke told this website in a an interview, adding: "He [Potgieter] does have the ball-carrying ability of a blindside flank.

"However, if you look at Dewald, he has always played towards the ball - it has always been his style and it is second nature for him to play towards the ball.

"Dewald and Steggies [Stegmann] has always made a good combination and we have seen [in the past] the value of two players who play towards the ball.

"With him [Potgieter] having the ability to carry the ball as well, he can play both roles for us."

Ludeke felt that Potgieter is a "smart and intelligent" player who reads the game very well.

"He started out as a No.8, which just emphasises his utility value," the coach said, adding: "His real strength is his workrate."

There has been a huge clamour for the inclusion of an openside player that is a genuine ball-poacher - players like George Smith (Brumbies), David Pocock (Brumbies) and Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs).

However, Ludeke feels the role of the flank has changed somewhat and that the openside flank is not exclusively a 'fetcher'.

"Because the ball is in play for longer periods and there are more phases, it is a big advantage if you have another loose forward who have the breakdown skills, but can also create opportunities with ball in hand - get you over the advantage line and link up with other players," the Bulls coach told this website.

"It is a bonus if you have an openside flank that can do that, and there are a few - take Steggies [Stegmann] as an example, who can play both roles.

"That is Dewald's advantage, he can play the blindside role, but can also go [play] towards the ball.

"For us it is important that you have somebody that makes an impact at the breakdown, because you can win or lose the game there.

"It is about the combination - a specialist at the breakdown, a player that gets you over the advantage line and a No.8 who is an allround player."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 28 October 2016
Ulster v Munster 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Scarlets 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Edinburgh v Zebre 18h35 BT Murrayfield
Northampton Saints v Gloucester 18h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 29 October 2016
Harlequins v Worcester Warriors 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 14h00 Allianz Park
Ospreys v Dragons 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Leinster v Connacht 16h15 RDS Arena
Sun, 30 October 2016
Wasps v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Sale Sharks 15h00 Ashton Gate
Exeter Chiefs v Bath 15h00 Sandy Park
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9