Pienaar harbours Bullish hopes
Pine Pienaar (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Blue Bulls rugby Pine Pienaar is relatively optimistic about his side's chances of making the Currie Cup playoffs provided they beat the Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
"There are still four games left and we are five points behind the fourth team on the log which is the Lions," Pienaar said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.
"It is a must win for us -- we can win all four and maybe not make it - but to keep our hopes alive for that semi we have to go out and win this weekend.
"Mathematically you may still make it, but then it is not up to you."
While the Lions annihilated the Bulls 62-32 in the first round of the competition at Loftus Versfeld, Pienaar believed the scoreline did not truly reflect what his side was capable of.
"We are definitely not looking at what happened at Loftus, we learnt from it and we know if we give them the same opportunities they will punish us again.
"The players are looking forward to a massive challenge and we know we are in a tight spot when it comes to the log."
After the Bulls’ 29-18 defeat to Western Province over the weekend, Pienaar warned he would be making some changes to his side.
True to his word, Pienaar made six changes to the team, with only one due to injury.
The Light Blues have been boosted by the return of Springbok flyer Bjorn Basson, who was released from the national side to play in the Currie Cup.
Basson replaces Sampie Mastriet on the left wing, while the fleet-footed Clayton Blommetjies will receive a starting berth in the place of Jurgen Visser, who drops to the bench.
The inclusion of Tony Jantjies in the starting XV in the place of the injured Handre Pollard could see him face off against his brother Elton.
Ulrich Beyers has been given the number 13 jersey at the expense of Waylon Murray, who drops out of the match-day 22.
Pienaar made a further three changes to his pack with experienced lock Wilhelm Steenkamp moving back into the side in the place of Grant Hattingh.
The Bulls have called on more experience with Bandise Maku receiving his first start of the season at hooker for the injured Bongi Bbonambi.
Bulls captain Jono Ross said the players needed to take responsibility for their performances following a lacklustre display against Province.
"We are the guys that are out there playing for 80 minutes, so we are responsible for what happens on the field," Ross said.
"We need to stand up and be counted now."
A fit-again Werner Kruger will start at tighthead, with Frik Kirsten moving to the bench.
Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.
Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois
Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross
(captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Wilhelm
Steenkamp, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Morné
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant
Hattingh, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Lohan Jacobs, 21 William
Small-Smith, 22 Jurgen Visser