It’s a pleasure to speak again to all of you, as Leinster have traveled back to Africa to face the
Emirates Lions and the Vodacom Bulls in back-to-back games over the coming week in two of
the most iconic stadiums to any sport or rugby enthusiast.

As a former Bulls and Leinster player, these are the type of games you still want to be involved
in. An occasion that will be fitting for the final game of the regular season of the BKT United
Rugby Championship.

A full-time Dad and Assistant Coach to the SWD Eagles playing in the Currie Cup Premier First
Division is what takes most of my daily time. As you read this, I’ll be at Outeniqua Park doing my duties on the sideline this afternoon.

I am absolutely delighted to still be part of the game that offered me so much. The opportunity
to do it in my backyard is a total bonus and huge blessing.

The team did well last year, and are three from three so far this year. It’s a big learning curve,
but I have the luxury of working with my home club in George.

It’s the second season of South African teams playing in the URC and you can undoubtedly
notice the impact. The URC is a competition that will grow massively on sport lovers this side ofthe world as we saw the success reached with DHL Stormers last season.

Last weekend, there were tough results to take on board from a South African stance as our
teams exited the Heineken Champions Cup. There will be learnings that will be hugely
beneficial for the future and come later this year down in France for the World Cup.

The URC is still pretty new to South African fans, but it’s great to see Leinster and Zebre play
the Lions and Bulls in back-to-back doubleheaders over the next two weekends in Ellis Park and Loftus Versfeld.

A first of back-to-back doubleheaders is exactly the type of entertainment for fans to come out in their masses to enjoy and become accustomed to the new teams and faces, as we enter a new
culture bred between North and South.

The Lions are coming off back-to-back wins in the league, and will be a tough test for Leinster
this weekend. They will have seen the extended squad Leinster have brought to Johannesburg
and Pretoria, but won’t underestimate Leo’s team.

Getting knocked out of the Challenge Cup last weekend, will sharpen their minds for the last two matches of their season. The Lions will have a 16th man on the field with them in the Highveld too.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like playing at altitude, but I feel Leinster will find it tough, especially in the final 20 minutes of both matches. With Leinster in the position of trying out new combinations, the Lions have a good chance to try and move up into the Play-Off positions,
even though they are currently in 11th.

Many teams have tried different formulas to try and combat the altitude, but from a physiological perspective, it’s very difficult to properly prepare for.

With the Eagles, we play at sea level, and struggled a few weeks ago near Ellis Park. Even as
South Africans, we struggled in those conditions.

Leinster’s players are going to get the chance to play in two of rugby’s great arenas. Loftus
Versfeld and Ellis Park are known throughout the rugby world, and it’s something the players
won’t forget in a hurry. They are bucket list venues that have hosted Lions Test matches, and
even a World Cup Final.

To the young lads having the opportunity to represent over the next two weeks at these
exquisite venues – Bag the Memories!!

The Bulls are in a funny position at the moment, having lost four games in a row. They lost to
Toulouse last week, and I expect them now to fully focus on the URC, and go well for the
remainder of the season.

Playing both Leinster and Zebre, there is a chance to get some points and cement that play-off
position and qualify for next season’s Champions Cup.

If results don’t go to plan though, Leinster and the Bulls may meet again in the Quarter-Finals of the URC in Dublin. What a match that could be, after the Bulls won the Semi-Final last season.

I was delighted to see both Dave Kearney and Rhys Ruddock named in the squad earlier this
week to come to South Africa. Both former teammates, Dave had a few niggles recently, and it
was great to see him back on the team sheet recently

Rhys has been brilliant, especially when the international players are away. He brings seniority
and has guided a lot of the youngsters, taking them under his wing.

South African fans are intrigued by all things Leinster. They are fascinated by the environment
that Leo and the staff have created. If you want to pit yourselves against the best, Leinster bring
those qualities, no matter who is playing in blue. They are world leaders in how to play the game currently.

This time last season, I was delighted to see Leo and some of the staff and players, ahead of
the Stormers game in Cape Town. Having had the opportunity to share the field with Leo as a
player. To see how good he is now doing off the field is not a surprise.

As a young coach, I am very intrigued by the environment he has created. All going to plan, I
am hoping to get to next week’s game. The Eagles are due to play the Leopards in Potchefstroom, and if time allows, I’ll make the trip to Loftus Versfeld to see the team in

We’re coming into the business end of the season, and even though Leinster won’t be
returning to South Africa again this season after the Bulls game, I’ll be keeping a very close
eye on what’s happening on the pitch, as they try and get to two Dublin finals.

There are a few massive weeks ahead and as an ex-player I will be following with great
hope. Hopefully the team can grant Stu the departing gift of a fifth star, that he fully