Springbok, Bulls centre blown away by Arendse, Moodie, Simelane: 'They have boatloads of talent'

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Kurt-Lee Arendse congratulates Canan Moodie. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
Kurt-Lee Arendse congratulates Canan Moodie. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
  • Bulls centre Lionel Mapoe says he is blown away by the talent some of the younger players at the union possess. 
  • Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have already notched up Springbok caps this year. 
  • Mapoe says he tries to offer advice wherever he can as a senior player in the set-up.

Lionel Mapoe might be 34 years old, but he remains a key figure in the Bulls locker room and very much part of coach Jake White's first-team set-up at the franchise.

A Springbok of 16 Test caps, the former Cheetahs, Lions and Stade Francais man is still operating at an extremely high level, evidenced by the fact that White backed him in the No 13 jersey for last weekend's North/South derby against the Stormers in Cape Town.

READ | Springbok policy has aided Kitshoff's appetite 

That result did not go the way of Mapoe and the Bulls - they lost 37-27 - but Mapoe and his team-mates are ready to bounce back on New Year's Eve when they take on the Sharks in Durban.

The Bulls are expected to field a strong side in that match, with Mapoe playing alongside other Boks in the backline, like a roommate and long-time friend Cornal Hendricks, while the speed of Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie will also be unleashed.

2022 has been a massive year for both Arendse and Moodie, who exploded onto the international stage with hugely impressive introductions to Test match rugby.

It is that blend between experience and youth that helps make the Bulls such an exciting side to watch presently, and it was impossible to miss Mapoe's eyes lighting up when asked to speak about the skillsets of players like Arendse (26), Moodie (20) and 24-year-old Wandisile Simelane. 

"It's crazy. They have boatloads of talent. They are really good players.

"They inspire me again. It rolls back the years and makes me think of when I was their age, to think that I was also that fast at one point," Mapoe laughed.

"They have so much talent and long careers ahead of them. I can only help where I can.

"My role in the team is a bit broader now. Cornal and I are roommates, so we get a lot of time together to talk rugby. We're not too old to learn, so we still feed off each other a lot.

"With the younger guys, I try to help them where I can, and they also have their own way of thinking about the game. I just try to give them my 10 cents and see if my advice can help them on the field."

Mapoe also lauded the work White had done in giving the younger players at the union an opportunity to thrive.

"They're very lucky. I don't think I had that experience of having a coach like that when I came through," said Mapoe.

"The guys here have a lot of talent, and they want to work, and I think coach Jake is grooming them pretty well. To come into a new competition last year and make it to the final, I think, says a lot about how he is managing the young guys.

"It's still a building process, and everyone is still learning."

Saturday's clash against the Sharks kicks off at 16:45 and will be followed by the Stormers hosting the Lions at 19:00.

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