Like any good boerewors and tighthead, new Bulls bolter Francois Klopper has some 'pork' in him

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Francois Klopper. (Photo by Charle Lombard/Gallo Images)
Francois Klopper. (Photo by Charle Lombard/Gallo Images)
  • New Bulls tighthead Francois Klopper has endeared himself to Jake White and co by stating he's like good boerewors: he has some pork in him.
  • Yet the Tuks Varsity Cup star not only has a robust attitude, he boasts a notable and varied skillset.
  • White also notes that he enjoys Klopper's university background because Varsity Cup stalwarts are more matured and are stimulated differently.

Earlier this year, Gert Smal - himself a proverbial man mountain at 1.98m - asked Francois Klopper what are the attributes of a good tighthead prop.

The 23-year-old Tuks Varsity Cup stalwart kept his answer simple, perhaps even cliched.

"Francois told him a good tighthead is like good boerewors, it requires a bit of vark (pork)," said Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby.

"He summed it up quite nicely."

That's exactly what White sees in his latest candidate to strengthen the franchise's depth in the No 3 jersey after handing him a first start in Friday's URC meeting with Connacht at Loftus.

Playing in one of the game's most demanding positions not only requires technical prowess, but also a robust attitude.

In other words, you need to behave a bit like a pig when you run onto the field.

READ | Jake admits Canan Moodie is getting tough love at the Bulls: 'I want him to play 100 Tests'

At a meaty 1.89m and 124kg, Klopper is ideally-built for his role and has honed his craft since his days at Bethlehem Voortrekker after his father suggested at a young age that he initiate the shift. 

"His body shape is perfect. He looks like a tighthead," said White, who's also been impressed by the rookie's skillset.

"He's got the shape, the athletic ability and he's scrummed well for a guy who's still relatively young in that position. Props only really mature in their late 20s or early 30s.

"He's done well and suits the way we want to play. He carries well too. Eventually he's had to get a start. 

"We'll see how he does in a really good pack and how he mixes with them."

Yet while Klopper's playing output has been encouraging, what White has really enjoyed is his front-rower's academic background, once again illustrating that there's value in calling up players who've bided their time in the disciplined environment encouraged by Varsity Cup.

The Bulls mentor earlier also highlighted how Mihlali Mosi, one of his off-season signings from the Cheetahs and a Varsity Cup legend, is making rapid strides because of his intelligence complementing innate ability.

It's a dynamic White embraced while coaching Toyota Verblitz in Japan.



15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 David Kriel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp

Substitutes: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Reinhardt Ludwig, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Lionel Mapoe


15 Oran McNulty, 14 John Porch, 13 John Farrell, 12 John Daly, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 David Hawkshaw, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Oisin Dowling, 4 Lefa Vifita, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley

Substitutes: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Jack Aungier, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Shamus Hurley-Langton, 21 Colm Reilly, 22 Byron Ralston, 23 Ciaran Booth

"In Japan, every player who joins a club needs to have a degree. Generally, the clubs recruit from universities, so in your first "rugby year", you're 23 and already a bit more mature in general," he said.

"I enjoyed that because these type of guys get stimulated differently. It's not the same old, same old. They stimulate me as a coach too because they're intelligent and think about the game a bit differently. They're, in a sense, older and wiser."

Now Klopper has the opportunity to establish himself in an increasingly youthful but burgeoning Bulls pack featuring rising stars in Elrigh Louw, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp and Ruan Nortje along with men of proven class in Marcell Coetzee and Marco van Staden.

"If he is where he is now, imagine having been together with the rest of his age-group teammates for the next three years," said White.

It's a tantalising prospect, just like a juicy string of boerewors on the braai.

Kick-off is at 18:30.

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