With so many Sprinboks away, do the Vodacom Blue Bulls have a realistic chance of winning this year's ABSA Currie Cup?
Yes, we did it in 2003
No, I don't believe in miracles

The Vodacom Bulls thank their fans for their great support during the 2007 Vodacom Super 14 season.

Rayno Gerber and Hottie Louw
If you walk around Menlyn and you see two big guys looking somewhat lost, walk up to them and welcome them to Blue Bulls country, because the chances are good they are the Vodacom Blue Bulls' new forwards, Rayno Gerber and Hottie Louw.

Gerber is a strong tight head prop originally from the Eastern Cape who used to play for the Cheetahs before he left South Africa for Leeds in England, where he packed down in the scrum next to the former Bulls prop Kees Lensing.

Louw is the well-known former Springbok-, Stormers and Western Province lock who has spent the last few seasons playing club rugby in France (for Clermont Auvergne) and Wales (for Llanelli Scarlets).

He was signed by the Bulls shortly before the start of the Currie Cup to provide some cover at lock with Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw away with the Boks. Along with Francois van Schouwenburg, Adriaan Fondse, Cliff Milton and Wilhelm Steenkamp the Bulls have enough cover at lock, and Louw's experience might come in handy as three of these locks are still quite young.

The 25-year-old Gerber is very excited about is move to Pretoria. He shares a house with another former Free Stater, Gurthrö Steenkamp. Ironically the two of them were on the Cheetahs' bench in the 2004 Currie Cup final, won by the Bulls at Loftus.

"I really enjoy living in Pretoria. At the moment I'm still living with Gurthrö, but I am looking for my own place," says Gerber.

"Getting a few starts is great. Hopefully things will continue to go well, because I would really like to play in the Super 14 next season."

Louw also shares a house with one of his team mates, the hard-as-nails centre Dries Scholtz.

"With all the moving around in the last few years I now have furniture at three different places," says Louw, 30, who like Derick Hougaard and Stefan Basson attended the famous Boland Landbou School in outside Wellington in the Western Cape.

"I have returned to South Africa to compete for a place in the Springbok side and I believe the only way to do this is to play in the Currie Cup. I am looking forward to a solid Currie Cup with the Blue Bulls and would like to add another winners medal to my collection of two, which I won with WP in 2000 and 2001.

"I would like to be in contention for a place in next year's World Cup squad, and depending on my inclusion in the Springbok touring squad at the end of this year, will weigh up my options with regards to returning to the UK."

Louw, who played in three tests in 2002 under Rudolf Straeuli, says his main aim is to enjoy rugby under the pleasant South African sun.

"I would be great to win the Currie Cup again, but like Rayno said, the Super 14 is also a big draw card. I have always enjoyed playing in this tough series," he says.

Gerber hopes to cement his place in the hard Bulls front row. With Andries Human recently moving back to the Western Cape, to be with his family, this former pupil of Framesby High School in the Eastern Cape is one of only a handfull tight head props in the Bulls squad.

Hopefully these two hard men can still walk a successful and long road with the Bulls. One thing is for sure - they fit in very well. The Bulls have always been known for their tough forwards, and Rayno and Hottie definitely fit the bill.

Other articles by Up close and personal with
  • The president of the Blue Bulls, Boet Fick
  • Derick Hougaard
  • Todd Louden
  • Fourie du Preez
  • The jack in the box Heinie Adams

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