Blue Bulls sign PA ’s Liselihle

Former Graeme College star and EP U18 Craven Week captain doing it for his mom

BIG MOVE: Liselihle Maphekula has been signed to the Blue Bulls development team.

Talented 19-year-old Liselihle Maphekula, from Port Alfred, has been signed to play as eighth man on a 2 year deal with improving terms on each year for the Blue Bulls development team.

The former Graeme College pupil captained last year’s Eastern Province Under 18 Craven Week team. “I had to play in a number of teams to get recognised by the Blue Bulls. “Having to represent the EP U18 Craven Week and captaining the side put me in a very good position for them to contract me,” said the third-row forward.

Edgar Marutlulle, the under-19 coach-Blue Bulls Company Junior coach said they had been tracking Maphekula’s progress from U16 at Graeme College. “We watched Lihle from under 16 and followed his progress through all the junior interprovincial competitions. We were more convinced when we saw him play in matric at the Graeme Day Festival. We approached his first team coach who then gave us his agent’s number and we successfully negotiated terms with him and his agent and now he is firmly part of the Blue Bulls Junior set up,” he said.

The rugby club track players from the age of 16 to 18 from the entire South Africa and see who are the best players and then continue to track them until they get to grade 12. “We then with the help of SA Rugby High Performance and various nationwide scouts identify and offer development contracts to the players we believe could play for the Vodacom Blue Bulls,” explained the coach.


The Blue Bulls Junior coach said Maphekula’s impressive running and evasion skills made him stand out in the selection for the company. “He is very good ball carrier who has a very high work rate. He can jump in the Line-out which is imperative at the Vodacom Bulls. His versatility is also big plus – he can play across the entire Back Row ( 6, 7 and 8),” said Marutlulle.


Growing up in a single-parent home in Nemato was not easy and motivated Maphekula to succeed in his rugby career so that he can help his mother financially. “I’m a very family-oriented person. “I’ve been living with my mom after my father left me at the age of eight, so I’ve always been driven to try by all means to take the load off her so she doesn’t feel the load of being a single parent. “This was one of my drivers to put my family in a better position by grafting hard to not get my mother in situations where she had to use a lot of money to fund my future,” he said.

Maphekula was introduced to the game of rugby at a very young age through watching older boys play touch rugby. “I had older friends who were at Port Alfred High while I was still at the crèche there. “I would always have to say to my teachers that my mother would pick me up at the other side of the school, knowing very well that my group of friends would be playing touch rugby on the other side of the school. “I would spend about three hours a day doing that and that’s how I formally caught on to the game of rugby at a very young age,” he said.

Along with a number of achievements under his belt in his rugby career, he believes his playing abilities and the hard work he has put in over the years contributed to being recognised by the Blue Bulls. He has adjusted well at the Blue Bulls camp. “I’ve been adjusting pretty well at the camp by trying to get to grips with everything being said during the training and getting myself to be open and coachable,” said Maphekula.

Coach Marutlulle confirmed that he is indeed adjusting well to the new environment and new team mates. “He understands that it requires an enormous amount of hard work and luck to play firstly for the Vodacom Bulls under 20 and the later the senior team. We believe in his talent and tenacity and look forward to seeing play many games for us,” said Marutlulle.


Graeme College rugby coach, Jonty van der Meulen, said the school was extremely proud of their alumnus. “I personally, and Graeme College as a whole, are very proud of Liselihle’s achievement. “He has displayed for a number of years that he is a very talented and hardworking rugby player and it is great that he has been recognised as a player who could possibly perform at the next level. He had a very successful season in 2022 for Graeme College which culminated in him being selected as captain of the Eastern Province Craven Week team.

“We know rugby at the next level can be incredibly challenging due to huge volumes of competition and talented players, however, we look forward to watching his progress and I believe we have not seen the best of him yet as he will only get better and better in the Blue Bulls environment. “We wish him all the best with his future endeavours,” said the proud coach.

While at the Blue Bulls, the determined Maphekula said he aimed to improve his game and climb up the ranks. “I’m hoping to accomplish a lot through the Blue Bulls by putting myself in a suitable position to further my career, getting myself through the ranks and hopefully getting to the top and getting myself to become a better player,” he said.