Super Rugby

Smart buys mean Griquas come to Ellis Park with a cracking loose trio

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Carl Els scored the winning try for the Bulls in last year's Under-21 final.
Carl Els scored the winning try for the Bulls in last year's Under-21 final.
Gordon Arons/Gallo Images
  • Griquas will boast a powerful and varied loose trio for their match against the Lions, once again showcasing their shrewd recruitment.
  • That's exemplified by 22-year-old Carl Els, who's rapidly becoming a banker for the Peacock Blues.
  • Head coach Scott Mathie hopes his flankers will get a platform at Ellis Park to showcase their skills in unison.

The reality of being an emerging franchise means that sometimes one has to make do with what's available on the player market and that can lead to imbalances within a squad.

Yet Griquas have not fallen into that trap, judging by the powerful and versatile loose trio they'll have on show against the Lions in Friday night's Super Rugby Unlocked match at Ellis Park.

No player exemplifies the shrewd recruitment in Kimberley better than Carl Els.


15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel


15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Adre Smith, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel

Substitutes: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Bandisa Ndlovu, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Ewan Coetzee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Masixole Banda, 24 CJ Velleman, 25 Jonathan Francke

The 22-year-old flanker will slot in at No 8, having commenced the campaign as an opensider.

Els is clearly flaunting his versatility as he was still employed as a second rower in the Bulls' Under-21 title triumph last year, where he scored the match-clinching try in the final as replacement.

"Carl has been really impressive," said Scott Mathie, Griquas' head coach, of the 1.87m, 96kg former Affies star.

"His work rate has been immense and I've enjoyed how he plays towards the ball. But I'm quite excited to see him play at No 8, he ticks a lot of boxes in that position."

Some video footage of Els' junior days will attest to that as he has the ability to link effectively, impressing in particularly with an ability to come up with some delightful passes.

Then there's the Peacock Blues' undoubted enforcer, Stefan Willemse, the 1.94m, 114kg bruiser formerly from the Southern Kings and Pumas.

"He's a model professional. Such a hard-worker and a guy who'll run into walls for you all day. He's so dependable," said Mathie.

Completing the trio is Gideon van der Merwe, NWU-Pukke's former "Hulk" in the Varsity Cup, whose size - 1.83m, 94kg - belies his bustling style of play.

The 25-year-old is undeniably employed in a fetcher role but his sheer physicality reminds one vividly of Marco van Staden's own smashing efforts at the Bulls to date.

It should culminate in the balance Mathie seeks against opponents expected to deliver a high-octane spectacle - a group of loose forwards nimble enough to disrupt the breakdowns while also holding their own as ball-carriers.

"Yeah, there's definitely a balance to the loose trio," he said.

"I'm hoping they can give us some thrust and compete to slow down the Lions' ball. But it will also depend on the rest of their team-mates too. They'll need to secure the set-piece and provide us with some rhythm. 

"Then we can definitely look forward to the flankers making their mark."

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