Bulls name 'club' team for big north-south derby
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Bulls will field a team with nine players from the club ranks when they host Western Province in the opening round of the Currie Cup on Saturday.
In what is an unprecedented time for the Bulls, 44 players cannot be considered for Saturday’s big north-south derby at Loftus Versfeld.
Director of Rugby Jake White took a squad of 28 players with him to Treviso, for the Rainbow Cup Final encounter with Benetton on Saturday.
Another four players are in camp with the Springboks in Bloemfontein.
There are four players sidelined with injuries, two are on duty with the BlitzBoks and six have been called up to the Junior Boks.
Saturday’s game will be recorded as the largest number of debutants in a single professional game for the men in blue, with only two of the matchday 23 having seen Currie Cup action before – that being Simphiwe Matanzima and Kefentse Mahlo.
Stand-in coach Pine Pienaar will take the reins in the absence of Director of Rugby and head coach Jake White and will be assisted by Hayden Groepes and Edgar Marutlulle.
These three gentlemen are no strangers to this talented young group as they have been working tirelessly within the junior structures over the last few years.
The squad will be headlined by the return of Loftus prodigy, Simphiwe Matanzima.
The big prop, who made a massive impact since his introduction to the senior ranks, is returning from a long-term injury setback.
He will be accompanied by Francois Klopper in the front row, with Werner Fourie at hooker.
They will be backed in the scrum by JJ Scheepers and Tiaan de Klerk in the engine room, with loose forwards Henco Beukes, Jaco Labuschagne and Jaco Bezuidenhout rounding out the forwards.
It is a big weekend for the Kriel family, as livewire Richard Kriel takes the No.15 jersey to make his Currie Cup debut.
His brother David is with the senior team in Italy.
Hot-stepping Sebastiaan Jobb and Kefentse Mahlo will be given an opportunity to spread their wings.
The midfield will be marshalled by captain Sango Xamlashe at outside centre and Louritz van der Schyff in the No.12 jersey.
The exciting halfback pairing of flyhalf Jandré Burger – younger brother of Zack Burger – and Johan Mulder at scrumhalf will be aiming to provide the perfect attack platform for an electric backline.
Fans can also expect the unleashing of another beast when Mhleli Dlamini gets off the bench to make his much anticipated professional debut.
There has been a lot of hype in the media, especially on social media, around the prop, better known as ‘Big G’, and he will no doubt be looking to make his first official outing count.
Pienaar reaffirmed his belief in the system and his young group.
“Jake [White], together with the management team, have put in a lot of effort in aligning our structures at Loftus at all levels since his appointment,” Pienaar said.
“So, we know exactly what is expected of us, and we know what needs to be done.
“This is a talented group, even in the absence of a ton of senior and contracted players in the Rainbow Cup Final, Bok duty, national Under-20 call ups and also a few untimely injuries.
“I am truly excited to see these boys step up and use this opportunity to stake a claim.”
Bulls: 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Sebastiaan Jobb, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Louritz van der Schyff, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Jandré Burger, 9 Johan Mulder, 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, 7 Jaco Labuschagne, 6 Henco Beukes, 5 Tiaan de Klerk, 4 JJ Scheepers, 3 Francois Klopper, 2 Werner Fourie, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements – from: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Donald, 18 Mhleli Dlamini, 19 Adolph Visser, 20 Eduan Lubbe, 21 Tiaan Fourie, 22 Kabelo Mokoena, 23 Niel Beukes, 24 Uzile Tele.
Date: Saturday, June 19
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 16.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Local appointments
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni