Bulls coach Nollis Marais moved Jesse Kriel to fullback when he named his team to play the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Kriel, who started at centre in the win against the Sunwolves last weekend, replaces Warrick Gelant, who has been ruled out of action due to a broken jaw sustained in the same match, in a revised back three. Travis Ismaiel returns to the starting team as right wing, with Jamba Ulengo replacing Bjorn Basson on the left.
Basson is injured. Jan Serfontein will return to the midfield to link up with Burger Odendaal. His place on the bench will be taken by SP Marais.
The former Southern Kings and Sharks player could debut for the Bulls if he takes to the field. Marais also bracketed Arno Botha and Nic De Jager at the back of the scrum. Lappies Labuschagne is back to full fitness and is named on the bench pending this afternoon’s training session, with De Jager as possible cover, should Labuschagne pull out.
Scrumhalf Piet Van Zyl has been released to the Currie Cup team for match fitness and Ivan Van Zyl will deputise at scrumhalf. Marais believes his team is due a solid performance. Marais says: ‘We have to get it right. We are battling to put together 80 minutes of rugby at a time. We have been lucky so far that it did not come back to bite us, but we cannot continue like that if we have title ambitions. We need to sustain our first half effort and the players are very aware of that.’ Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, is expecting another tough and typical local derby.
He says: ‘The Cheetahs will be pumped to come here and beat us. This is one of their big matches of the year and if we cannot repel their enthusiasm and commitment by producing our own 80 minute effort, we will be in trouble. Luckily, the team is very aware of that. We are playing at home and have the expectations of our fans, but also the drive from within the team to deliver a good performance.’
The team (with number of Super Caps) is: Jesse Kriel (20), Travis Ismaiel (8), Jan Serfontein (40), Burger Odendaal (14), Jamba Ulengo (2), Tian Schoeman (11), Rudy Paige (25), Arno Botha (37)/Nic De Jager (4), Jannes Kirsten (4), Roelof Smit (7), RG Snyman (4), Jason Jenkins (4), Marcel Van Der Merwe (37), Adriaan Strauss (122), Lizo Gqoboka (4).
Replacements: Bandise Maku (51), Trevor Nyakane (62), Pierre Schoeman (1), Nicolaas Janse Van Rensburg (4), Lappies Labuschagne (39), Ivan Van Zyl (0), Francois Brummer (9), SP Marais (35).
Photo credit: Nick Lourens