Sadie finished at Loftus?
Johann Sadie’s unhappy time at Loftus Versfeld seems to have taken a dive lower as the midfielder was dropped out of the Vodacom Blue Bulls' match-22 to face GWK Griquas this weekend in Kimberley.
Sadie seems to have paid the price once again for his failure to grasp the Bulls' defensive system, and this time it could be the last Loftus fans see of the talented player in a light blue jersey.
With just five games left in the year, Sadie’s omission from the match 22 -- the Bulls preferred under-21 utility back Ulrich Beyers in the midfield and IRB Junior World Player of the year Jan Serfontein on the bench -- has seen him pay the price for the poor defence against the Lions at Loftus last weekend, and even though coach Pine Pienaar was more than diplomatic in his explanations, it is unlikely that Sadie will be back in the team before the season ends.
Sadie asked to be released from his Bulls contract after just six months at the union, and went and signed a two-year deal at the Cheetahs, where he will officially start on 1 November. But after all the bluster and hype surrounding his R1.4-million move to the Bulls, he has hardly lived up to the expectations.
To be fair, the midfielder has struggled with injury, hurting his shoulder in the first match against the Sharks this year, and then tearing ankle ligaments just when he returned, but even when he finally made his Currie Cup debut for the Bulls, it was hardly the impact that most expected at this level.
Sadie has been outperformed by Beyers, who now steps in to take his place, while JJ Engelbrecht usurped his 13 jersey in Super Rugby, so much so that Engelbrecht earned a Bok call-up ahead of his housemate.
The other two changes to the team that lost against the Lions see former Lions scrumhalf Rudy Paige come in for Ruan Snyman, another victim of the Lions loss, while a back/neck strain to Clayton Blommetjies keeps him out, bringing Jurgen Visser into the last line of defence for the team. Flanker Arno Botha, who started training again this week, was judged not to be ready from his hamstring strain and was not considered for the side.
Pienaar, despite publicly saying after the game he would be looking for someone who could tackle better, said Beyers’s elevation was more because he “deserved a chance” than of Sadie’s failings.
“Ulrich played a great game against Griquas, Cheetahs and Sharks as well. Sadie came back from injury and we gave him an opportunity to play, but Ulrich deserves another opportunity,” Pienaar said. “I think he had a difficult season, had a lot of injuries in Super Rugby and struggled to find his form. We know what Sadie can do and if he wasn’t special I don’t think we would have bought him. He’s just struggling to find his form and the injuries have hampered him.”
Part of the reason Sadie hasn’t been discarded is that, with 22 players currently out or injured, the Blue Bulls can’t really afford to. They may need him if there are injuries as the competition comes down to the business end of matters. For this reason Pienaar declined to say Sadie was “finished” at the Bulls when one journalist asked the question.
“It’s still a long season and five games are left. I wouldn’t say he is finished in a Bulls jersey, we take it week for week. Maybe next week he will be back in the 22, but for this week we have this 22 that we have chosen. I told him if some of the other players don’t play well then maybe he can be back in, but we will have to see what happens.
“I wouldn’t say the problem is his defence. I would say Ulrich played well when he played and it was a simple case of measuring those two players against each other. Ulrich slipped two tackles against Griquas, but he is a direct player, whereas Sadie likes a bit of space. I think its difficult for Sadie because he is moving to Free State. He has got a lot of criticism from supporters who feel he must go now. But I still feel he is a quality player, part of this squad and we may need him later this season.”
The Bulls need to win this weekend’s game against Griquas to move off the bottom of the Currie Cup log, and need to win their remaining games if they are still to make it to the semifinals.
Vodacom Blue Bulls team: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, Ulrich Beyers, Francois Venter, JJ Engelbrecht, Louis Fouche, Rudy Paige, Dewald Potgieter (capt), CJ Stander, Warwick Tecklenburg, Grant Hattingh, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Werner Kruger, Willie Wepener, Dawie Steyn.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Cornell Hess, Jean Cook, Ruan Snyman, Lionel Cronje, Jan Serfontein.