Silky Sintu Manjezi can add panache to an already firing Bulls set-piece

If Sintu Manjezi is going to be the man to fill Jason Jenkins’ void when he leaves Loftus for Japan again early next month (or perhaps even earlier), he won’t have to do any patchwork. FULL STORY:

As things stand, there isn’t a lot wrong with the Bulls’ set-pieces.

They boast a 100% scrum success rate and are also the joint best line-out unit (90.9%) in Super Rugby Unlocked.

Instead, the 25-year-old utility forward – who predominantly plays in the second row – offers the tantalising prospect of being a player that can add panache to his team’s already solid offering.

Manjezi, a hulking 1.97m, 114kg exponent, is known for his robust manner, dominating his collisions while boasting eye-catching passing ability.

Yet it would be unwise to underestimate his core skill of having to be a primary line-out jumper, something that has been harnessed during a productive PRO14 stint with the Cheetahs.

It’s no secret that the central franchise has focused heavily on the set-pieces in the past year given its extra importance in the slower conditions of Europe.

“You want to win your set-piece to get front foot ball, that’s one of the core principles of the game. You also use it to play in the right territory,” said Manjezi.

“But what I’ve learned in the PRO14 is using a solid set-piece as the foundation for solid mauling. You’re able to sap the forwards and then play the kind of shape you’ve been preparing for.

“It’s also a useful tool in the weather. When it’s wet, you can use your maul because a good drive can allow you to score tries when you can’t move the ball around. That’s something I really want to bring to the Bulls too.”

Then, of course, there’s the subtle art of poaching.

“I’ve also learned to appreciate stealing the ball in the line-outs,” Manjezi said with a wry smile.

“If you can contest well, you get a lot of good results.”

Indeed useful strings to add to the bow.

Hearteningly, it seems that Jake White, the Bulls’ director of rugby, is more than willing to let one of his high-profile acquisitions take a lead in suggesting new ideas.

“He allows us to express ourselves,” said Manjezi, who has been absorbing the insights he can gain from experienced teammates such as Duane Vermeulen, Arno Botha and Juandre Kruger like a sponge.

“He doesn’t want us to be confined to ‘boxes’ and not play the type of rugby that you want to play, within a system of course.”

A gifted cricketer at school, Super Rugby Unlocked has, at least theoretically, allowed him to have a taste of the rigours of the southern hemisphere competition – he only joined Free State once they embarked on their European journey – though he admits the differences between the two tournaments hasn’t exactly been too apparent.

“Yeah, to be honest, when comparing the two, it’s only really been the weather that’s different! Super Rugby and PRO Rugby are both very tough competitions and you’ve just got to be on the mark to do well,” said Manjezi.

The feeling though is that might change soon as the local teams find some match-fitness … and you can bet on him licking his lips.