Cape Town – He has been toying with the idea for a long time, and now Bulls coach Jake White has decided that the time is right to unleash Kurt-Lee Arendse as an attacking fullback in Friday’s United Rugby Championship clash against the Sharks.
Arendse’s devastating sevens skills was evident when he burst on to the 15-man scene during last year’s Super Rugby Unlocked competition, but he didn’t see much of the ball on the Bulls’ URC tour of Europe a few weeks ago.
In fact, the 25-year-old speedster was called upon to save the day in defence on a few occasions during the four-match trip.
And after just a lone victory and three defeats, White has seen enough, and hopes that Arendse can get his hands on the ball more often at Kings Park on Friday night (7pm kickoff).
“We’ve just played David Kriel there, and I’d like to see another option at fullback. I think a guy like Kurt-Lee gets some space – the Sharks kick a lot of ball – so what I’m thinking is that if they kick poorly and he gets the ball in his hands, he can play like a sevens player,” White said during a press conference on Thursday.
“He can counter-attack, and I appreciate the fact that he is very good when he’s got some space around him. The other thing about fullback is that he can play on both sides of the field. When he’s on the wing, he’s probably limited to certain plays going his side, whereas at fullback, we can use him to the left and the right.
“It’s something I want to try – I’ve been wanting to try it for a long time, and I’m looking forward to see how he does.”
It is a similar thought process that has resulted in David Kriel shifting from fullback to outside centre against the Sharks. The 22-year-old will team up with his brother Richard, who will start at left wing in Durban, and will hope to keep Sharks centres Lukhanyo Am and Jeremy Ward busy in defence.
“When he (Kriel) was at Province, he played centre a bit as well. He’s got an incredible work-rate, and having looked at some of the backs in the URC – especially the top sides like Leinster – a lot of them have big and tall number 13s,” White said.
“It’s very hard to tackle them, and there’s an opportunity for them to offload, and I just think his body shape, his work-rate and what he offers from a skill-set point of view, he can play at 13 as well.
“The obvious thing is that I could’ve gone with Stedman (Gans) and Cornal (Hendricks), or Harold (Vorster) and Lionel (Mapoe), but I’ve seen those combinations, and I’d like to, over the next couple of years, find different combinations and see whether or not we get something different on attack and defensively.
“I saw Lukhanyo moved to 12, so it’s going to be an interesting contest between our centres and them.”
15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 Madosh Tambwe 13 David Kriel 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Richard Kriel 10 Morné Steyn 9 Embrose Papier 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Arno Botha 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain) 5 Ruan Nortjé 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Robert Hunt 2 Bismarck du Plessis 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Johan Grobbelaar 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Lizo Gqoboka 19 Jacques du Plessis 20 Sintu Manjezi 21 Zak Burger 22 Chris Smith 23 Harold Vorster.