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Bulls attack given licence to thrill

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The Bulls scored the most tries in Super Rugby Unlocked, with the likes of Stedman Gans and Kurt-Lee Arendse coming to the fore.

The Vodacom Bulls’ Kurt-Lee Arendse. Picture: Christiaan Kotze, BackpagePix

THINGS have definitely changed for the better at the Blue Bulls in recent months, and it’s not just about recruiting top players.

It is also about trusting such players, and coaches like Chris Rossouw, to do what they do best and allowing them to showcase the skills that brought them to Loftus Versfeld in the first place.

That is the major breakthrough that Bulls director of rugby Jake White has made in his brief stint in Pretoria, and it has paid dividends – the Super Rugby Unlocked title is in the bag, and they are leading the Currie Cup standings by eight points.

Rossouw was a creative flyhalf for Western Province and was part of the team that won consecutive Currie Cup titles in 2000 and 2001, both against the Sharks.

Now he is heading to Durban again, this time as the Bulls attack coach, in a confident mood.

The Bulls scored the most tries in Super Rugby Unlocked, with the likes of Stedman Gans and Kurt-Lee Arendse coming to the fore, and there is no doubt that the Rossouw stamp is on their backline play.

“I would definitely say I am enjoying Jake at the moment,” the now 44-year-old said yesterday.

“He’s definitely changed a little bit, and having the opportunity to coach overseas, you obviously develop as a coach and you see new ways of doing things.

“So, he’s got a good, clear understanding of how we want to attack and play, and the nice thing is that he has given us licence within our system to play what we see, and to obviously display our skills.

“The great thing about Stedman and Kurt-Lee is that we always tell them to be spectacular and solid – and many times, you get guys who are spectacular.

“But in 15s, you need to be solid at times, and it’s unbelievable how they have developed and grown.”

The Sharks, though, will be keen to close their eight-point gap to the log-leading Bulls to four on Saturday (7pm kick-off), having come off a bye week.

Totally different test

Rossouw also knows that playing in Durban will provide a totally different test for his team.

“They have very good backline players, and their pack can stand their man. The ball goes further here than at Kings Park, and while we haven’t played there in December, the humidity will make the ball slippery,” he said.

“The Sharks are a big kicking team who don’t play rugby in their half, and with Curwin Bosch there, they put up lots of contestable kicks.

“So, it’s about handling the pressure with the kicking or aerial game.”

Meanwhile, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl is set to move to England to further his career – but it may only happen sometime next year.

English media reports stated over the weekend that the 25-year-old Springbok halfback will join former European champions Saracens as soon as this month.

But Rossouw said yesterday that Van Zyl is contracted to the Loftus Versfeld union until the end of 2021.

“I’m not aware of that. I’ve heard some rumours … As far as I know, Saracens are playing in the second division, so that’s probably only the end of next year, when his contract ends (at the Bulls),” he said.