Players arriving at a union normally have to earn a starting place through proving their worth over a period of time, but Bulls coach Jake White is so sure of Walt Steenkamp’s abilities that the former Free State Cheetahs lock has been vaulted straight into the starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby Unlocked match against the Lions at Ellis Park.
The introduction of Steenkamp, replacing Ruan Nortje, who has an injury niggle, is the only change to the Bulls team that thumped the Stormers last weekend in such impressive fashion.
The 25-year-old from Rustenburg, who only arrived in Pretoria at the start of the week, leapfrogs Sintu Manjezi, who stays on the bench partly because he can play in both the number four or number five jerseys.
“I signed Walt on the basis that I wanted to use him, and with Ruan Nortje having a bump on his knee I didn’t want to risk him as a 22-year-old who has played every minute for us so far,” White said after announcing his team on Thursday.
“So it’s a good chance to give Walt an opportunity, he has played well for the Cheetahs, who are an unbeaten team, and he will bring that confidence. He knows how to win.
“Walt is 120kg, more than two metres tall and a mean scrummager. That’s my kind of forward – I want the biggest, meanest, strongest Bulls pack ever.
“It’s also Jason Jenkins’ last week with us before he goes back to Japan, so maybe next week we will play Ruan and Sintu. I thought Sintu would be a No 5 for us, but he can double up and is maybe more of a No 2 jumper, No 4 lock,” added White.
Bulls team: David Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen (C), Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Walt Steenkamp, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp, Marcel van der Merwe, Sintu Manjezi, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Marco Jansen van Vuren