Home Sport Leinster rucks will be ‘10 times worse’ than Dragons says Ruan Nortjé

Leinster rucks will be ‘10 times worse’ than Dragons says Ruan Nortjé

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Coach Jake White spoke about how the Dragons were able to disrupt the Bulls in their 31-10 victory in Newport last Saturday, which led to a slower ball from the rucks.

Ruan Nortje of the Vodacom Bulls. Picture: Steve Haag Sports, INPHO, Shutterstock, BackpagePix (13773583o)

Ashfak Mohamed

If the Bulls thought the Dragons had slowed their ball down at the breakdowns, they have another thing coming in tomorrow’s United Rugby Championship clash against Leinster in Dublin (9.35pm kick-off, SA time).

That was the warning from co-captain Ruan Nortjé and hooker Johan Grobbelaar to their teammates this week.

Coach Jake White spoke about how the Dragons were able to disrupt the Bulls in their 31-10 victory in Newport last Saturday, which led to a slower ball from the rucks.

The Pretoria side, though, managed to clinch a bonus-point victory in the final passage of play as Grobbelaar scored the fourth try from a driving maul, which ensured the Bulls moved up to second on the log on 45 points, four behind Leinster.

White’s team have all the weapons on attack – such as Kurt-Lee Arendse, Willie le Roux, Canan Moodie and Embrose Papier – to trouble the Leinster defence tomorrow, but it won’t amount to much if the forwards aren’t able to win the breakdown battle up front.

“I think the Dragons targeted us hard at the breakdowns, and we can expect it to be 10 times worse this weekend,” No.5 lock Nortjé said this week.

“Leinster won’t want to let us play at all. They will try to disrupt us entirely and try to make it very slow for us.

“It’s a quality team with international players in all positions, and it’s an exciting challenge for us. That’s where you want to be – you want to play against some of the best players in the world and take that opportunity and prepare well.”

Grobbelaar added: “Especially that first half against the Dragons, there was a lot of pressure on the breakdowns, which made things a bit difficult for us in terms of playing some attacking rugby.

“We will definitely put some emphasis on the breakdown and how we can speed up our ball, and Leinster will be an even bigger threat at the breakdown.”

The 26-year-old Grobbelaar was one of the heroes of the Bulls’ memorable 27-26 semi-final victory over Leinster at the RDS Arena in 2022.

He scored the opening try and was a menace at the breakdown all night long.

Having also been part of the recent Springbok alignment camp, his duel with Leinster’s Irish Test hookers, Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher, is the ideal time to put his best foot forward for national recognition, with Ireland arriving in South Africa for two Tests in July.

Grobbelaar also feels that the Bulls are a better team now than during that semi-final.

“It’s obviously not an easy task, but we have done it before.

“Two seasons ago, in the semi-final, we were also the underdogs,” he said.

“That year, we showed it’s not impossible, so we definitely believe we have a good chance. We’ve done our preparations quite well this week and are definitely up for the challenge.

“As a group, we have grown over the years, and you must at least, when playing all the games together, find each other better.

“So, we are definitely in a better position, and we are better off than what we were at that time. So, at some stage things must start to click, and things must start working for us.

“It’s always lekker to measure yourself against some of the best, so he is a Test player, (featuring in) World Cups, Six Nations, one of the big names in the business.

“I’ve been there (in the Bok squad on tour) before, and it’s obviously great to be back again – it’s always nice to be in that environment with the national squad and players.

“It’s always exciting to hear the new plans, what they’re thinking about and what their vision is for the year. To meet the new coaches was exciting, and there were some new faces who were there for the first time at the alignment camp.

“It makes you quite excited for everything that lies ahead this year. Every single player in South Africa has a dream to play for the Springboks, so definitely would like to get a chance there.”

Leinster, though, have an ace up their sleeve in former Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber as part of their management, and his inside knowledge of the Bulls will make things tougher for the visitors.

“We know coach Jacques is unbelievably good at what he does. He will make sure that their players know us like a book,” said Nortjé.

“We must make sure we do our preparations and come up with a big effort, and just pitch up on the day.

“The next few weeks are big for us. It’s seven weeks in a row where we have big games where we must be ready and step up.

“It’s all about the mental aspect and how the players are managed, and coach Jake and the management have a plan for that.”

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