Chiliboy back, but not skipper
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Pretoria - The Blue Bulls were given a double bout of good news as they named their team to face the Leopards in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
There was the initial good news that Springbok midfielder Jaco Pretorius has recovered sufficiently from his stress fracture to his foot and will start a match for the first time since the Super 14 final in May.
Then just before coach Frans Ludeke walked out to face the media the news came through that errant lock Flip van der Merwe had only received a “strong warning” for a wayward punch in last weekend’s game against the Lions.
Van der Merwe was cited after the game and had to attend a disciplinary hearing in Johannesburg on Monday, but the news means he could be selected for the match and get some more game time before the Tri-Nations resumes.
This came as the Bulls showed their depth once again by being able to rest regular captain Gary Botha, winger Sello Mametsa and tighthead prop Werner Kruger even though they have almost an entire team out of action at the moment.
Chiliboy Ralepelle will start at hooker in the place of Botha, who has been given a complete break this week. This means that another Bok hooker – Bandise Maku – will be on the bench.
Kruger has played an amazing amount of rugby and hasn’t missed a Bulls or Blue Bulls game for the last two years, so the break is both needed and well-deserved. His place is taken by former Leopards and Griquas prop Bees Roux who after a long spell on the bench will make his first Currie Cup start for the Blue Bulls this Friday.
The team will be captained by flanker Derick Kuün in the absence of Botha, with Pretorius replacing Stephan Dippenaar and former Boland winger Hayden Groepes coming in for Mametsa on the left wing.
On the bench another former Cape player – Dustin Jinka – who starred for Hamiltons last year in the National Club Championships, will make his debut for the defending champs and Frik Kirsten is back from a neck injury to cover the front row.
Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Stefan Watermeyer, Hayden Groepes, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Dewald Potgieter, Derick Kuün (captain), Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Bees Roux, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Jaco Engels
Replacements: Bandise Maku, Frik Kirsten, Mthunzi Mabeta, CJ Stander, Dustin Jinka, Francois Brummer, Stephan Dippenaar.