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Arendse Returns to Bolster Bulls for URC Grand Final

  • June 21, 2024
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Arendse Returns to Bolster Bulls for URC Grand Final

The Vodacom Bulls received a major boost ahead of the URC Grand Final against the Glasgow Warriors, with the return of Springbok winger Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Arendse, who underwent surgery for a fractured cheekbone sustained in the quarter-final, has been named in the starting lineup by coach Jake White. The Springbok wing has contributed 50 points after scoring 10 tries in this competititon.

This return is crucial for the Bulls, as they lose fullback Willie le Roux due to a head and neck injury sustained in the semi-final. Medical protocols prevent le Roux from participating in the Grand Final. Devon Williams will replace him at fullback, marking the only other change to the starting XV.

“Concussion protocols ruled Willie out,” explained White. “He failed his HIA, so there’s a mandatory recovery period. He wanted to play and feels fine, which shows the great team spirit we have, with everyone eager to be part of this Grand Final. Kurt-Lee’s doctor and specialist were impressed with his surgery and recovery. It speaks volumes about his commitment, and having him back is fantastic, especially after losing someone like Willie.”

This minor adjustment strengthens a team poised to compete for one of the biggest titles in the Bulls’ history. They’ve reached the URC playoffs for three consecutive seasons and are now playing in their second Grand Final.

“My main message to the players is to replicate what we did against Leinster last week,” said White. “That performance was outstanding. There’s no secret formula. It’s a Grand Final, so you just need to keep doing what has been working for you. We need to focus on ourselves, what we can control, and not worry excessively about Glasgow’s tactics. If everyone gives their best, I’ll be satisfied.”

White expressed confidence that his team has learned from their previous URC experiences, including a first Grand Final loss and reaching the quarter-finals last year. They’ve also secured impressive victories on their path to this Grand Final.

“We’ve learned from our participation in this competition,” White continued. “It’s about applying those lessons now. We’ve grown as a team. Many young players from that first Grand Final are now more experienced, tougher, and more streetwise. This journey has fostered growth, and we’ve definitely improved.”

Loftus Versfeld is sold out for this historic occasion – Pretoria’s first-ever URC Grand Final. White anticipates a special experience for his players performing in front of their passionate home crowd.

“If you haven’t experienced a sold-out Loftus Versfeld, you can’t imagine the atmosphere,” White, who helped Boks win the World Cup in 1997, said. “There will be 53,000 fanatical Bulls fans here. I’ve coached Springbok games with a mix of traveling supporters, but it’s a different story with an entirely home crowd. It’s an incredible experience for players to run out in front of that. The fans will be arriving early to watch the Springboks versus Wales on the big screen. Imagine the energy if the Springboks win and we kick off at 6pm – this place will be electric!”

Despite the enthusiastic home support, White downplayed any talk of favoritism.

“Being favorites means nothing,” White emphasized. “One of the fantastic things about the URC since its inception is the unpredictability. A team’s ranking or perceived advantage doesn’t guarantee victory. Glasgow played exceptionally well to beat Munster at home. That reinforces what I already know – they’re a team capable of beating anyone, and we certainly won’t underestimate them. By tomorrow, everything before is irrelevant. It all comes down to 80 minutes in the final, and nothing else matters beyond that.”

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Robin-Duke Madlala

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