Coetzee injury blow, but Bulls pick Arendse and Moodie as RG Snyman starts for Munster

Marcell Coetzee is unlikely to feature for the Bulls again this season due to a knee injury. Photo: BackpagePix

Marcell Coetzee is unlikely to feature for the Bulls again this season due to a knee injury. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 19, 2024


The Bulls have suffered a huge blow to the United Rugby Championship playoff prospects after co-captain Marcell Coetzee was ruled out for virtually the rest of the season on Friday.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White said during a press conference at Loftus Versfeld – ahead of Saturday’s URC clash against Munster (5.05pm kickoff) – that the 32-year-old Coetzee had undergone surgery on his knee.

But there was more positive news on fellow Springboks Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie, who have recovered from minor niggles to return to the team after missing last week’s Champions Cup quarter-final loss to Northampton in the UK.

White is also confident that lock and co-captain Ruan Nortjé (hamstring) and Bok flank Marco van Staden (knee) will back from their injuries soon.

“I don’t think Ruan Nortjé is too far away, and I am hoping that he will be back soon,” the former Bok boss said.

“Marcell had an operation while we were away, and they found something wrong with his knee – it was more serious than we thought. So, it looks like he won’t play for the rest of the season, which is a massive loss for us.

“Marco, after the Leinster game, probably has got another two or three weeks to go. We should be okay over the next couple of weeks, with Nortjé and Marco (coming back).”

Arendse and Moodie are joined by Willie le Roux, Sebastian de Klerk, David Kriel, Johan Goosen and Embrose Papier in a fully loaded backline.

The injuries upfront saw White picking youngster Cameron Hanekom at openside flank, with Reinhardt Ludwig at blindside and Elrigh Louw – who will also captain the side – at No 8 to counter a highly physical Munster pack that includes Springbok powerhouse lock RG Snyman.

“A lock is 19 years old, the number six is 21, seven 21, captain 24 – it is a really young loose trio, but exciting,” White said.

“We’ve seen how Ludwig has grown quickly, and Cameron this season. We’ve seen Elrigh over the last couple of seasons, and he too was that age when he started with us.

“It is a combination that I am looking forward to seeing anyway – it’s got everything: skill, height, pace, youth, which also comes with energy.

“And we are playing at altitude, and our field is generally quite quick – we use it for football. So, to have those kinds of loose forwards who can run is also a strength for us as well.”

Teams For Loftus Versfeld

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux 14 Sebastian de Klerk 13 Canan Moodie 12 David Kriel 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse 10 Johan Goosen 9 Embrose Papier 8 Elrigh Louw (captain) 7 Reinhardt Ludwig 6 Cameron Hanekom 5 JF van Heerden 4 Ruan Vermaak 3 Wilco Louw 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bench: 16 Akker van der Merwe 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Mornay Smith 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Mpilo Gumede 21 Zak Burger 22 Chris Smith 23 Devon Williams.

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo 14 Calvin Nash 13 Antoine Frisch 12 Alex Nankivell 11 Shane Daly 10 Jack Crowley 9 Conor Murray 8 Jack O’Donoghue 7 Alex Kendellen 6 Peter O’Mahony 5 Tadhg Beirne (captain) 4 RG Snyman 3 Stephen Archer 2 Niall Scannell 1 Jeremy Loughman.

Bench: 16 Eoghan Clarke 17 Josh Wycherley 18 Oli Jager 19 Tom Ahern 20 Gavin Coombes 21 Craig Casey 22 Joey Carbery 23 John Hodnett.