‘Spy game’ continues for Bulls
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - Another week, another reason to be wary of intelligence dished out by a former member of the Loftus “family”.
The Bulls enter their vital, overseas tour-ending Super Rugby clash with the Western Force on Saturday (11:40 SA time) again under little doubt that a South African plying his trade with the opposition will pass on useful information about their systems and culture.
It happened last week, when ex-Bull Jacques Potgieter, the much-improved utility forward with the Waratahs, would have whispered a few things ahead of the Sydney clash, won 19-12 by the hosts.
Potgieter then delivered a typically committed, barn-storming personal effort in the ‘Tahs victory, which reduced the Bulls to three losses from as many tour fixtures.
This week, although he will start from the confines of the Force bench to limit his own contribution between the white lines, lock Wilhelm Steenkamp gets his opportunity to play understandable “turncoat” as he enlightens his colleagues about aspects that make the three-times champions tick.
Calvinia-born Steenkamp, 29, the older brother of currently injured Stormers second-rower De Kock, had two spells with the Bulls as he earned 36 caps, the last finishing as recently as 2013.
So memories of key information will be fresh in his mind ... and his fit-again replacement in the Force starting XV on Saturday, Sam Wykes, admitted that Steenkamp has been forthcoming.
“He’s definitely given a bit of insight as to how they play,” Wykes was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au)
as saying this week.
“I haven’t really been learning any Afrikaans, so I’ll just leave it to him.”
Wykes said trying to interpret the Bulls’ lineout calls had been a key feature of Steenkamp’s aid in the lead-up.
Of course it may not be so simple: the Force will be up against one of the brainiest and most dedicated lineout jumpers and strategists in rugby history in the shape of legendary Bulls No 5 Victor Matfield
The 36-year-old World Cup winner will almost certainly have done some counter-planning of his own to negate any Steenkamp clues offered ...Teams:Force:
15. Jayden Hayward, 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Marcel Brache, 12. Kyle Godwin, 11. Nick Cummins, 10. Sias Ebersohn, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. Matt Hodgson (captain), 6. Angus Cottrell, 5. Sam Wykes, 4. Adam Coleman, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pek Cowan
Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Ollie Hoskins, 19. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20. Brynard Stander, 21. Justin Turner, 22. Zack Holmes, 23. Chris Tuatara-MorrisonBulls:
15 Jurgen Visser
, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson
, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard
, 8 Grant Hattingh
, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross
, 5 Victor Matfield
(captain), 4 Paul Willemse
, 3 Werner Kruger
, 2 Bongi Mbonambi
, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku
, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Rudy Paige
, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing