South Africa 'A' v Bulls - Teams and Prediction
TIME TO SHINE: Jacques Nienaber and Jake White have revealed their teams for Saturday’s South Africa ‘A’ v Bulls match in Cape Town.
Nienaber made wholesale changes to South Africa ‘A’ for the clash at Cape Town Stadium, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies leading the squad that features nine Rugby World Cup winners.
The encounter will be followed by the clash between the Stormers and British & Irish Lions at the same venue as the Lions Series nears the highly-anticipated Test Series, starting on Saturday, July 24.
Nienaber, who made the trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Friday with a host of players who will begin their return-to-play protocols after recovering from COVID-19, made 12 changes to the starting team in line with his strategy to give as many players as possible the chance to stake a claim for places in the Test team.
Only three players who started in the team’s 17-13 win against the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday retained their places in the starting team – Damian de Allende (centre), Marco van Staden (flank) and Joseph Dweba (hooker).
Aphelele Fassi (fullback), Rosko Specman (wing), Cobus Reinach (scrumhalf), Kwagga Smith (No.8), all of whom started in the Test against Georgia two weeks ago, are back in the starting line-up.
Fassi, who made his Test debut at wing, will form an exciting back three with Specman and the uncapped Yaw Penxe, while exciting centre Wandisile Simelane will join forces with the experienced De Allende in the midfield.
Nienaber named a physical loose trio featuring Smith, Rynhardt Elstadt and Van Staden, while Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg is promoted from the bench to the starting team where he will start alongside Jean-Luc du Preez in the second row.
Dweba, meanwhile, will pack down with vice-captain Vincent Koch and Coenie Oosthuizen in the front row.
The expanded replacements bench also has a completely different look to it with Fez Mbatha, Lizo Ggoboka, Thomas du Toit and Wilco Louw – who joined the squad earlier in the week as additional prop cover – named alongside Jasper Wiese, Sanele Nohamba, Sbu Nkosi, Jesse Kriel, and Damian Willemse.
“We wanted another SA ‘A’ match to give all the players a chance to show what they are capable of before we enter the Test Series against the British & Irish Lions, and we are excited to give these players this valuable opportunity,” said Nienaber.
“With several changes to the matchday squad, there won’t be much continuity from Wednesday’s match, but the game time and the chance for these players to show what they can offer on the field will be invaluable with an eye on improving our match fitness and building momentum before we enter the Test Series.”
Nienaber was thrilled to be back with the squad after having to watch the SA ‘A’ team take on the British & Irish Lions from Johannesburg and said: “It’s great to be back with the squad and to be able to interact with the players and management staff.
“I joined all our coaching sessions and team meetings online during my COVID-19 isolation period, so it is a real pleasure to be back in the team set-up and coaching on the field.”
The Bok coach looked forward to the clash and said: “The Bulls have been a force to be reckoned with in domestic rugby since rugby resumed late last year after a long absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we are expecting a good match-up.
“We want to make the most of this opportunity to build on our structures and systems and also to tick certain boxes before the Test matches against the British & Irish Lions.”
Bulls debut for Goosen
Meanwhile, the industrious Nizaam Carr will lead an exciting Bulls side in Cape Town on Saturday.
Carr, who will be starting in the No.6 jersey, will captain the side that will see a number of changes to the team that took on Pumas in their previous outing in a Currie Cup battle.
An exciting and long-awaited addition to the team is the debut of experienced Springbok pivot, Johan Goosen, who will marshal the troops as the starting flyhalf on Saturday.
The Bulls will retain continuity and experience in the form of another Springbok, Cornal Hendricks, who will once again form a midfield partnership with Harold Vorster.
Simphiwe Matanzima, Schalk Erasmus and Jacques van Rooyen will be expected to provide some stability as the starting front row, while the lock pairing of Walt Steenkamp and Ruan Nortje continue their auspicious combination in the second row.
Excitement can be expected from the inclusion of youthful talents such as FC du Plessis, WJ Steenkamp and Muller Uys.
“The opportunity to be called in as opposition for the South Africa ‘A’ side is one we could not refuse,” said White.
“We will be going out to give it our best shot, with the intention of not only providing good opposition for them, but also building and growing together as the Bulls side.”
@rugby365com: South Africa ‘A’ by 20 points.
South Africa ‘A’: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 4 Jean-Luc du Preez, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements – from: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Japser Wiese, 20 Sanele Nohamba, 21 Sbu Nkosi, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Damian Willemse, 24 Lizo Gqoboka.
Bulls: 15 FC du Plessis, 14 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Zak Burger, 8 WJ Steenkamp, 7 Muller Uys, 6 Nizaam Carr (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 David Kriel.
Date: Saturday, July 17
Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 13.00 (11.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Marius Jonker