Blue Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann returns to the starting line-up to take on the Pumas in the Mbombela Stadium on Friday in the Absa Currie Cup. Stegmann was a late withdrawal from the team that beat the EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. That prompted the call-up of Clyde Davids to the bench and Jacques Du Plessis moving to the flank, but with Stegmann fit again, it is back to the regular starting pack for the match in Nelspruit.
Du Plessis and Marvin Orie will start at lock, with RG Snyman dropping back to the bench in place of Davids. Coach Nollis Marais says: ‘This is our last match before the play-offs, so we need to confirm the momentum and rhythm we want to take into the knock-out stage. I am happy that we could select a strong team for this match against a very capable opponent. We are probably playing our toughest match of the year. The Pumas at home, on a very hot afternoon, can be a very taxing encounter. We are going to need great individual performances, but also a massive team effort to bring this one home. We dare not look past this match to the play-offs, as we need to grow as a team and continue our upward curve in the competition.’
Bulls captain, Lappies Labuschagne, feels that the home side was unlucky in a number of matches this year and could easily have been part of the play-offs: ‘The Pumas are a dangerous opponent, full stop. They have a solid pack and that enables their backs to prosper. We will need to win this one upfront, if we want to secure a win. It is going to be tough, but we would not want it any other way.’
The team is: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tian Schoeman, Francois Hougaard, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Marvin Orie, Jacques Du Plessis, Marcel Van Der Merwe, Bandise Maku, Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: Corniel Els, Werner Kruger, RG Snyman, Ruan Steenkamp, Ivan van Zyl, Louis Fouché, William Small-Smith.