Cape Town – He hasn’t had a lot of game time over the last 12 months, but new No 8 Muller Uys will be expected to spark the Bulls pack into action in Saturday night’s United Rugby Championship showdown with Edinburgh (6.15pm SA time kick-off).
The former SA Under-20 star, who went to school at Paarl Gym in the Western Cape, hasn’t seen much action due to the plethora of loose forwards available to coach Jake White.
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Duane Vermeulen, Nizaam Carr, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee and lately Elrigh Louw have worn the No 8 jersey, but with Louw given a break on the bench, Uys’ pace might come in handy for the Pretoria side on the fast 4G pitch at the DAM Health Stadium.
The 23-year-old Uys will face a stern test, though, against Edinburgh No 8 Viliame Mata, who has the most carries so far in the URC.
“That’s it – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head (about Uys’ pace). He is a good athlete, he’s quick. 4G pitches, it is one of those areas where you can get stuck a bit if you’re not that athletic. Having him, who has had lots of time to train and now looking to play, I’m hoping that that energy and spark that he can bring to the team is something we need this weekend,” White said from the Scottish capital yesterday.
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“He is a great player Mata, and is obviously one of the star players for their team. We’re focusing on another number eight we are going to give game time to, and Elrigh’s on the bench. He has played lots of rugby – 80, 80, 80 (minutes).
There are a number of South Africans in the Edinburgh side, including former Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman, and it is something White sees as a positive, as he feels the scrum contest might be a bit fairer to the visitors in that regard.
They have another former South African in flyhalf Jaco van der Walt at No 10, though, and the ex-Lions player made a number of line-breaks in last week’s 20-20 draw with the Stormers.
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So, intensity on defence will be vital for the Bulls to avoid a repeat of last week against Cardiff, where they went 16-3 down before winning 29-19.
White also wants his backs to take on the Edinburgh defence.
“They have changed the way they play a little bit. I’ve just MULLER Uys. | read an article CHRIS RICCO today where BackpagePix their flyhalf says the shackles are off, and a lot of these guys are playing for places in the Scotland team,” the Bulls mentor said.
“But we don’t want to defend all the time – we want to score some tries and attack as well. The lesson we’ve learnt over the last couple of weeks is to have a little more balanced performance over 80 minutes, and not all or nothing at the start or the end of the match.
Meanwhile, White confirmed the bad news on Johan Goosen’s injury, with the Bulls pivot sustaining an ACL knee injury against Cardiff last week. He will require an operation and be out for between seven and nine months.
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