Meet the latest graduate from the Bulls' flank factory with a 'helluva reputation'

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Werner Gouws comes with a big reputation from his junior years. (Gallo Images)
Werner Gouws comes with a big reputation from his junior years. (Gallo Images)
  • Former Grey College star Werner Gouws is the latest player from the Bulls' flank factory to graduate to the senior team as he starts against the Stormers on Friday evening.
  • Bulls mentor Jake White is wax lyrical about the 21-year-old blindsider, who comes with a "helluva reputation" and has worked hard for his spot.
  • Former Griquas captain Zak Burger also gets his chance and has been given free reign at scrumhalf as he looks to settle in as Ivan van Zyl's replacement.


When a then 20-year-old Elrigh Louw was bought by the Bulls in the Southern Kings' proverbial fire sale last year, there was a perception that the franchise was sidestepping its own homegrown flankers.

Seven months on, that allegation couldn't be further from the truth.

On Friday evening, the Bulls will boast a new blindsider in the form of Werner Gouws, a 21-year-old former Grey College star who was denied a chance to stake a claim for the Junior Springboks last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Injured during last season's triumphant Provincial Under-21 Championship campaign, Gouws has roared into contention pretty much from nowhere to join WJ Steenkamp as the latest former junior to join the Bulls' senior setup.

Granted a long-term contract at Loftus after matriculating, the young man from Bloemfontein clearly hasn't given Jake White - who was only appointed long after Gouws was signed - any buyer's remorse.

Teams:

Bulls

15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Werner Gouws, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Janko Swanepoel, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Diego Appollis

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kade Wolhurter, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Leon Lyons

Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Johan du Toit, 21 Evan Roos, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Tim Swiel

"When I came here, Werner was actually bogged down by an ankle injury. He came to Loftus with a helluva reputation," said the Bulls' director of rugby.

"He was perhaps a tad overweight when I arrived and I put him under a bit of pressure to get into shape. He's worked really hard and got an opportunity last week from the bench and impressed. 

"He deserves to get a starting spot this week."

While a traditional north-south derby against the Stormers is a fairly strenuous first test for Gouws, White had no qualms pointing out his new enforcer's special qualities.

"Werner's one of those players that just has something, something different," he said.

"He's an immensely hard player. His hands in the lineout is outstanding. The little bit I saw of him last week really impressed me.

"He was willing to carry the ball all the time and his reaction time is superb. Another thing that stood out for us is that Werner has brilliant footwork when he goes into contact. I'm really interested to see how he combines with a loose trio that includes Nizaam Carr and Marco van Staden."

Meanwhile, former Griquas captain Zak Burger - White's latest signing - is deemed ready to stake his claim as Embrose Papier's new competition in the scrumhalf position.

"When we do analysis on teams, we obviously also look at individual players that are threats. There's absolutely no doubt that when you watched Griquas, Zak was the guy that everyone was watching," said White.

"I'm expecting the same. I've given him free reign and told him that's why we signed him. He's very quick and has got a good rugby brain. He just needs to do what he's good at and have a go."

Kick-off at Loftus is at 19:00.  

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