Bulls send rookies to Newlands
Tony Jantjies (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar included five Currie Cup novices in his team to play defending champions Western Province in Cape Town on Saturday in his team's opening match of the 2013 competition.
Travis Ismaiel, Tony Jantjies, Jacques du Plessis and Wiaan Liebenberg all return to the venue of massive significance to them. Ismaiel, Jantjies and Liebenberg were members of the Junior Springbok team who won the IRB Junior World Championship at this venue just under a year ago, while 2013 Junior Bok Du Plessis made his Super Rugby debut for the Bulls at Newlands a month ago.
Former Vodacom Cup leader Jono Ross will be leading the team. He made his Currie Cup debut in 2011 against Griquas and made only one further appearance that season.
Paul Willemse, Callie Visagie (both Golden Lions), Waylon Murray
(EP Kings) and Marcell van der Merwe (Free State) will make their Currie Cup debuts for the Blue Bulls, but have played for other teams earlier in their careers.
Only five players - Francois Venter, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener and Morné Mellett - remain from the team that played in the Bulls' last Currie Cup match in 2012, the semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.
“We are excited about the potential of our team. We do have a lot of younger players and Newlands is a severe test to even an experienced player, but if ever there was a time to justify the structures and depth at the union, this it is,” Pienaar said.
“We have a lot of faith in our structures and the younger players have all proved themselves. There is also a good core of experience, so we are looking forward to a good Currie Cup season. To start away against the defending champions is a very tough ask, but if we want to reach the top, we must embrace and accept all challenges,” Pienaar said.
Kick-off is at 17:05.Teams:Western Province:
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Pat Howard, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Alistair Vermaak, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Michael Rhodes, 19 Ruan Kitshoff, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Berton KlaasenBlue Bulls:
15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellet.
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Marcell van der Merwe, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Waylon Murray
, 22 Clayton Blommetjies