Fri 25 Sep 2020 | 10:51

SuperFan Saturday: Teams and predictions

SuperFan Saturday: Teams and predictions
Fri 25 Sep 2020 | 10:51
SuperFan Saturday: Teams and predictions
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WELCOME BACK SOUTH AFRICA: The World Cup-winning Springboks are finally back on the field, following six months of COVID-19-enforced lockdown.

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Top of that list is Bok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi, who will play his first match since he suffered a serious knee injury against the Hurricanes on February 1.

With him in the Stormers matchday squad are fellow World Cup winners Warrick Gelant, Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff and Bongi Mbonambi.

The Lions have only Elton Jantjies (their captain) from the victorious World Cup campaign in Japan, but several other Boks – most notably Jaco Kriel, Marvin Orie and Ruan Dreyer.

In the early match – when the Bulls host the Sharks – there is also an array of internationals on display.

However, the Sharks are without the services of a couple of their World Cup stars – Sibusiso Nkosi (chest injury) and Makazole Mapimpi (on a one-year sabbatical with Japanese Top League side Red Hurricanes).

The new-look Bulls squad, under the guidance of 2007 World Cup-winning Bok coach Jake White, feature an array of stars – Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Arno Botha, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Juandré Kruger, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Gio Aplon.

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Of those Vermeulen (captain) and Trevor Nyakane were also members of Kolisi’s World Cup squad.

He was stating the obvious when Kolisi told a media briefing this week that he was “really excited” to be back on the field.

“It has been a tough time,” the Bok skipper said of his lay-off, which is now almost eight months.

The return to action will have a strange twist, in that no spectators or media are allowed – just some television cameras.

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However, the players are certainly not going to hold back.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt admitted it will be “weird” for everyone, but said it will be interesting.

“I don’t think anyone is fazed about the [lack of] spectators,” Everitt said, adding: “It is more about being excited to get back on the field.

The SuperFan predictions

Saturday, September 26

Bulls v Sharks
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)

The first match back after a six-month lay-off is not going to go smoothly. There’s is bound to be errors and a good measure of ‘rustiness’.

However, both Bulls mentor Jake White and Sharks rival Sean Everitt spoke about using the game to see where they are at ahead of the start of the new domestic competition – Super Rugby Unlocked, which gets underway next month.

“The time for talking is over,” White said of his first match in charge of the Bulls.

“We’ve prepared for this moment for weeks now and the boys just want to get out and play.

“Their commitment and dedication to the way we want to play is reassuring.

“Now it is time to go out there and to ensure all those long hours in the sun training and perfecting our craft is rewarded by a victory.”

Everitt said Saturday is about “preparation”.

“Obviously, with being out for seven months, we’ve had to reinstall our game model and revise it and make sure that the guys have a good understanding of what we are trying to do,” the Sharks mentor said.

“We are taking a few youngsters with on Saturday, so we would like to measure where they are as far as our understanding is concerned.

“At the same time, we also want to see where we are in terms of tempo and accuracy and a conditioning point of view.

“We did finish well in Super Rugby, but that doesn’t mean we know where we are right now.”

Last 10 encounters

Bulls-v-Sharks-last-10
Prediction

@rugby365com: Their pre-COVID-19 form suggests the Sharks are favourites and the bookmakers certainly think so as well. However, a few key injuries and the Jake White factor means the Bulls could win this by eight points.

Teams:

Bulls squad: Clinton Swart, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Jacques van Rooyen, Kurt-lee Arendse, Corniel Els, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Jade Stighling, Stravino Jacobs, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Arno Botha, Chris Smith, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortjé, David Kriel, Muller Uys, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Erasmus, Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Mornay Smith, Sintu Manjezi, Juandré Kruger, Nizaam Carr, Tim Agaba, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks, Gio Aplon.

Sharks squad

Forwards: Ox Nche, Mzamo Majola, Dylan Richardson, Dan Jooste, Thomas du Toit, John-Hubert Meyer, Ruben van Heerden, JJ van der Mescht, Hyron Andrews, Emile van Heerden, Evan Roos, Adam Mountfort, Celimpilo Gumede, Tera Mtembu, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Phepsi Buthelezi.

Backs: Grant Williams, Sanele Nohamba, Jaden Hendrikse, Curwin Bosch, Jordan Chait, Muller du Plessis, Caleb Dingaan, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Lukhanyo Am, JP Pietersen, Werner Kok, Manie Libbok, Thaakir Abrahams.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morné Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos

Stormers v Lions
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)

The Lions have loaded up on some Springbok experience and a few discards from the Bulls.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen made no secret of the fact that the influence of his handful of Springboks will be key – captain Elton Jantjies, along with returning Boks like Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer.

“They bring some calm heads and a renewed energy,” Van Rooyen told a media briefing.

“It is nice for us to see them understand our systems and working with the guys.

“They bring one or two new ideas that challenge us [as coaches], which is good.

“We are excited to see what they can do this weekend.”

Also new in the Lions mix are players like Jaco Visagie, Burger Odendaal, Sibahle Maxwane, Divan Russouw, and EW Viljoen.

However, the key for the Lions is the speedy loose trio of Hacjivah Dayimani, Vincent Tshituka and Jaco Kriel.

“We are really fortunate to have loose forwards with good speed and agility,” Van Rooyen said.

“The loose forwards, traditionally at the Lions, play a big fitness and mobility role. Having quick, mobile loose forwards is definitely a benefit to us.”

It will be a case of the fleet-footed Lions pack against the gargantuan Stormers pack.

“They [the Stormers] have a set of forwards that will test us at set-piece time,” the Lions coach said.

Stormers coach John Dobson said that there is plenty of excitement among the squad to finally get back onto the field.

“It has been a while for everyone, players coaches and our fans are all hungry for rugby, so we cannot wait to get there and take the next step as we build towards the new competition which kicks off next month,” Dobson said.

“Everyone has worked very hard to get to this point and while it will be great to see our high-profile players out on the pitch.

“We are also looking forward to seeing some new faces and seeing how they go against a quality Emirates Lions side,” he added.

Last 10 encounters

Lions-v-Stormers-last-10
Prediction

@rugby365com: As the old adage suggests, the game starts up front and this is where the Stormers have a clear edge. They should win by 15 points.

Teams:

Lions: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements – from: Sti Sithole, Jan-Henning Campher, Carlu Sadie, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Reinhard Nothnagel, MJ Pelser, Francke Horn, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Gianni Lombard, Stean Pienaar, Daniel Kriel, Manuel Rass, Jamba Ulengo, EW Viljoen.

Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Leolin Zas, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Hannes Gouws, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Tim Swiel, 24 Michal Hazner, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morné Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos

@king365ed
@rugby365com

PV: 20
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SuperFan Saturday: Teams and predictions | Rugby365