Super Rugby

Bok legend Steyn to add injection of pedigree at new-look Bulls


Cape Town - The Bulls may be entering their second Super Rugby season under coach Pote Human in 2020, but they are starting anew in many respects having lost a host of key individuals who helped guide the franchise to the quarter-finals of the 2019 competition. 

Duane Vermeulen, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Hanro Liebenberg and Schalk Brits are all moving on from their respective stints at Loftus next year. 

A quick glance through that list makes it clear that the Pretoria-based outfit will be losing an abundance of quality and experience, but Human is viewing that as an opportunity for his young players to put their hands up and prove that they belong on this level.

It also makes the arrival of former Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn all the more important. 

Now 35, Steyn is in Pretoria having arrived from a seven-year stay at Stade Francais and with 66 Test matches to his name, he will provide a major injection of much-needed pedigree at Loftus this season. 

"We had that opportunity with Schalk (Brits) and Duane (Vermeulen) last year. They came in and everybody listened to them because of their experience and the way they conducted themselves," Human told Sport24 on Thursday. 

"Morne is the same kind of guy. He will help a guy like Manie Libbok a lot, especially with his kicking game. Morne will be one of the leaders like he was at the Bulls before.

"He's an awesome guy and always the fittest on the field. He will lead by example."

Steyn's wife is expected to give birth in Pretoria this week, but he is likely to join up with the Bulls for a final push of pre-season training before they break for the festive season. 

"We're in our eighth week of pre-season and then we will give guys a break for three weeks and start again on January 4," said Human, confirming a warm-up clash against Tuks on January 11.  

"The guys are buying in and they're working really hard. There are a few youngsters putting up their hands and they want to show me they can play Super Rugby.

"Because of all the guys that have left, there is a new opportunity, so guys are really working hard. They want to make a name for themselves.

"Maybe there is a new Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen or Handre Pollard in the wings, you never know."

Steyn will also be key to the way the Bulls play this season, with Human expecting him to be the general on the field. 

Losing the physicality of the likes of Vermeulen, Snyman and De Jager will have a major impact on how the Bulls play. 

"You have to play with what you've got, and I don't think I've got the players at this stage to play old Bulls rugby," Human said.

"We won't be stupid, but if the opportunity is there to play then we want the players to express themselves.

"A guy like Morne will run that 100% for me. Play the territory, but if it's on then I want to play it."

The Bulls will also be welcoming Josh Strauss and Juandre Kruger to the franchise next week. 

In terms of expectations for 2020, Human was very clear: "We have to make the playoffs again," he said.

"It's going to be a huge challenge, but I like a challenge and I want to make the fans proud again."

The Bulls start their campaign with a clash against the Sharks at Kings Park on January 31. 

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