Africa-Press – South-Africa. Bulls director of rugby Jake White remains effusive in praise of Johan Goosen’s playmaking talents, even though he’s yet to ease him into action.
Goosen, who was called up to the Springbok squad despite his recovery from a long-term knee injury, didn’t feature in the Bulls’ 31-15 United Rugby Championship win against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The state of Goosen’s fitness becomes important, especially with Damian Willemse being concussed in the Springboks’ 36-20 Rugby Championship success against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
READ | ‘Disappointed’ Nienaber ‘literally stunned’ by Springbok drug allegations, questions timing
Handre Pollard is out injured while Elton Jantjies hasn’t returned to the Bok camp because of his indiscretions.
Frans Steyn deputised at 10 late in the game, with Chris Smith and Morne Steyn being the 10s who methodically took apart the Lions on Saturday.
White said Goosen’s value to the Bulls remains high, but what remains is for them to time his return properly.
“I’ve coached lots of players and he’s phenomenal. He also makes our defence function well because he runs in the opposition backline and he keeps us guessing,” White said.
“We’ll run as soon as he’s ready to go. He has a desire to play Test rugby and wants to go to the World Cup, so we don’t want to rush him.
“We just need to find the right time and combinations for him to be on the field, so it’s a work in progress and everyone needs to be happy.
“We just need to get him on the field while the other guys are still rusty, so it’s a balancing act to get him in the team.”
White also started Wandisile Simelane at fullback and was chuffed with how that experiment paid off.
White understands that Simelane will be tested at fullback, but with his best position of 13 being occupied by one of the best practitioners in the game in Lukhanyo Am, White is insistent that Simelane must learn trades in other positions.
READ | Boks block out noise to see off Argentina and keep Rugby Championship hopes alive
“He’s got a good feel for football, but I told him he can’t play in just one position,” White said.
“He can’t just play outside centre and fortunately for him, he’s got Lukhanyo Am as the best 13 in the world.
“To thrive at a high level, you need to play in different positions and I think he went fine in this game. He got caught out twice in small things, but he’ll get better.
“The more he plays, the better he’ll get.”