Bulls bruisers on Bok comeback mission

Akker van der Merwe and Wilco Louw have had a taste of the Springboks, and know that starring for the Vodacom Bulls is their ticket back into the national team, writes MARK KEOHANE.

Writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane highlights the impactful return of Van der Merwe and Louw to South African rugby, noting their pivotal roles for the Bulls as the Pretoria outfit gears up for an epic battle against Leinster in the Vodacom URC at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Both players have previous Test experience — hooker Van der Merwe with three caps and tighthead prop Louw with 14 — and are seen as potential assets for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Keohane argues that Van der Merwe's extensive experience in England and impressive try-scoring record, alongside his recent form, bolster the Bulls’ front row, and that his brother Duhan's success for Scotland further fuels his ambition for a Bok comeback.

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He notes that Louw, under Jake White's direction, has significantly enhanced the Bulls’ set piece,  drawing from his experience and stints in France and England.

Both players bring a level of maturity crucial for the Bulls as they face Leinster's formidable, internationally laden squad in Saturday’s URC semi-final, Keohane adds.

“Akker van der Merwe and Wilco Louw did not return to South Africa for a pension payout. They played starring roles up north and they know more of the same for the Bulls is their golden ticket back into the Bok squad,” he writes.

“Both players have had a taste of the Boks. Both have enough years in them to be an investment for the 2027 Springboks World Cup title defence and both can make a statement against the world-class Leinster front row in Saturday's URC semi-final at Loftus Versfeld.

“Louw and Van der Merwe have added gravitas to the Bulls and the hosts have a pack that can battle any in the game, at club level or one made up exclusively of Test players.”

Photo: ©Vodacom Bulls

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