The Vodacom Bulls have made a few changes to personnel in their matchday 23 that will duel French side, Lyon on Friday 20 January 2023, in round 4 of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup. The Pool A match is scheduled to kick-off at 22h00pm (Central African Time) at the Matmut Stadium de Gerland, in Lyon.
Nizaam Carr will lead the side as Simphiwe Matanzima, Bismarck Du Plessis and Francois Klopper form a new front-row combination to that which duelled the Chiefs in Pretoria. Ruan Vermaak will pair up with Janko Swanepoel in the second row, whilst Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink will have Carr for company in the back row. At the back: Embrose Papier (scrum half), Johan Goosen (fly half) and Cornal Hendricks (inside centre), who will be making his 50th appearance, come into the starting fifteen with Zak Burger and Chris Smith set to start off the bench, alongside Johann Grobbelaar, Gerard Steenekamp, Mornay Smith, Elrigh Louw, Lionel Mapoe and club captain, Ruan Nortje.
The herd are on a quest for a third victory of their debut campaign, hoping to emulate their triumphant 42-36 victory on home soil in the opening round of the competition. Their hosts, are still without a win in this campaign and will surely look to correct this in the final pool fixture, making this an appetizing clash for rugby fans across the two hemispheres.
In the pool, only five sides have already confirmed their qualification for the round of 16; LeinsterRugby (1st), Cell C Sharks (2na), Saracens (3rd), Exeter Chiefs (4th) and Edinburgh Rugby (5th) with three spots up for grabs going into the final round of fixtures.
The Vodacom Bulls travel to Lyon sitting sixth, 5 points adrift the pool topping Leinster (who are on 15 points) and 7 points ahead of their opponents, who lie in tenth place. Only a point separates the Pretoria outfit from Edinburgh and Exeter, with Harlequins in seventh place (7 points) and Racing 92 in provisional eight (5 points) ahead of this weekend’s matches.
Vodacom Bulls backline coach, Chris Rossouw said that the rotation of the players was done to look after the players and ensure that their welfare remains a top priority.
“Basically, it is part of player welfare and rotation because Ruan (Nortje) has played every minute of rugby of every match he has played, since the beginning of the season. The same with Harold (Vorster), since making his return from injury has played a lot of rugby, so it is important to manage him well too. This is all part of the rotation plan that we have had since the beginning of the year,”
“It’s important when in a group, to have your name in the team sheet as a player that can play these games. And when you get the chance, look to execute the job in the first 60 minutes.”
Rossouw also touted his side to face a staunch challenge from their opponents. “We believe that our team can do the job for us. We know it will be extremely difficult, Lyon is a top side, I think they are in the top six in the French Top14. Last week, Saracens were stretched when they came here and so we know it will be a difficult outing,”
“It is our first time in France and that is a new experience, it is extremely cold and that presents a great challenge for us but the guys are quite excited because they know that Lyon will pick their best side because they still have a chance of making it,”
“In any game, a win is important for us but the most important thing for us is the process I think in the last two games we managed the games quite well and that momentum is important for us. For us it will be how we handle that pressure and make sure that the lessons we have learned over the last year help us manage the momentum of the game.”
Commenting on the weather conditions and the impact they will have on the game, Rossouw said: It is obviously extreme, last week we played in 35 degrees (in Pretoria) and now in sub-zero conditions (in France). However, this is a challenge that over time we have come to embrace.”
The match will be broadcast LIVE on SS Rugby.
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Francois Klopper, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Nizaam Carr (c), 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. David Kriel, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Johann Grobbelaar, 17. Gerard Steenekamp, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Ruan Nortje, 20. Elrigh Louw, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Lionel Mapoe
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager
VODACOM BULLS HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP FIXTURES:
Saturday, December 10, 2022: Vodacom Bulls 42-36 Lyon
Saturday, 17 December 2022: Exeter Chiefs 44-14 Vodacom Bulls
Saturday, January 14, 2023: Vodacom Bulls 39-28 Exeter Chiefs
Friday, 20 January 2023: Lyon vs Vodacom Bulls