Johannesburg - Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke looks set to give SA under-20 star utility back Jesse Kriel another start at fullback in this weekend’s Currie Cup showdown with arch rivals Western Province, but some other players who performed well in the team’s solitary victory against the EP Kings haven’t been so lucky.
According to the supersport.com website, despite Jurgen Visser’s return from injury, it seems as if Kriel’s spectacular try against the Kings, which secured a bonus point for the Bulls, will be enough for the rising star to have another go in the fullback position.
Widely touted as a future Bok and highly rated across the coaching sphere, Kriel’s power and pace will be his asset as he hopes to reverse the team’s fortunes in a game they desperately need to win.
After losing both their opening games and conceding a massive 82 points in the process, the Bulls will be desperate to get their second victory in the competition to at least give them a shot of making the playoffs.
But against a Western Province team who have been awesome on counter-attack and who have found gaping holes in the Bulls defence in the previous fixture at Newlands a fortnight ago, it will take some doing.
That’s why, although Kriel and another former SA under-20 star William Small-Smith have done well to keep their places in the side, the treatment dished out to both Rudy Paige and Bongi Mbonambi doesn’t make sense.
While the team is only to be named on Thursday, indications already are that Bandise Maku will drop out of the match 23, and Mbonambi will have to move back onto the bench to accommodate Callie Visagie’s return, even though Mbonambi has by far been the best forward in the team this year.
The nuggety forward upped the tempo in the Cape Town game and scored the Bulls’ only try, while against the Kings he was prominent and often made inroads on attack. In contrast Visagie struggled in his last game against Western Province and was substituted early in the second half.
It may not be a surprise though, as coach Frans Ludeke has backed Visagie all season, a move that prompted Mbonambi to sign with Western Province when his current contract ends in November.
Paige is another unlucky player, after also looking dangerous in both the games against the Kings and Western Province, Ludeke is likely to return to Piet van Zyl for the starting role, and only give Paige a go in the second half.
Werner Kruger is likely to return to the starting line up as well, after Marcel van der Merwe was called up to the Bok squad, while there is also uncertainty about Tony Jantjies, who is struggling with concussion and may be forced to sit out this weekend’s game.
Tiaan Schoeman, who played most of the Vodacom Cup for the Bulls, and Joshua Stander are in contention for the spot if Jantjies is ruled out.
The team will be announced on Thursday.