Stadium opens to rugby
Nelspruit – The ribbon-cutting ceremony before Friday evening’s Currie Cup match between the Pumas and Blue Bulls to give the Mbombela Stadium official rugby status is excellent news for South African rugby.
Not only is rugby being taken to a new corner of the country, but the lifeblood that the sporting code can offer the stadium and the region’s taxpayers is another positive.
But once the blazer brigade have finished with the cutting and posed for the photographs, the actual business of winning a rugby match and gaining log points will start.
Both will be high on the priority list of the Bulls, especially as they have made it clear that they want to step on the gas in the second part of the Currie Cup.
“It’s important for us to increase the momentum on a weekly basis and hopefully play to our potential come the semifinals,” Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said this week.
To that end a victory with a bonus point is part of the expectations, but Ludeke is aware that it will require hard work.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity of opening the stadium, but it will also spur the Pumas on. I have a high regard for their coach Jimmy Stonehouse and the way he prepares teams for their games. We know we will have to give our best for 80 minutes.”
The Bulls are being strengthened at the back with the inclusion of Wynand Olivier and Zane Kirchner, but it’s at the back where the battle will be particularly intense.
The Pumas may be on the wrong end of the log, but their forwards have not yet been handed a beating this year.
Stonehouse has the ability to come up with a surprise, but things like first-time tackling, boldness and using opportunities are the basic ingredients of his recipe.
However, it will take more than just keeping the Blue Bulls in check for the Pumas to be able to produce a shock.
They will also have to control their phases, keep possession in the visitors’ half and ensure that no points are offered on a platter.
It will be difficult for the Pumas. The visitors’ pack is improving as a unit and things can get ugly if the backline gets enough space.
The Pumas’ focus is likely to be on the Bulls’ halfback pairing, with Dustin Jinka set to be singled out for attention in his first start.
15. Nicky Kritzinger, 14. Vainon Willis, 13. Shaun Venter, 12.
Tian Meyer, 11. Allistair Kettledas, 10. Elgar Watts, 9. Jacques Coetzee, 8.
Doppies le Roux, 7. Torsten van Jaarsveld, 6. Corné Steenkamp, 5. Marius
Coetzer, 4. Andries Kruger, 3. Ashley Buys, 2. Hannes Franklin (captain), 1.
Replacements: 16. Dee Jay Terblanche, 17. Dawie
Steyn, 18. Boela Serfontein, 19. Eduan van der Walt, 20. Ricardo Croy, 21.
Ashwin Scott, 22. Jaco Bouwer
15. Zane Kirchner,
14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Jaco Pretorius, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Hayden
Groepes, 10. Francois Brummer, 9. Dustin Jinka, 8. Dewald Potgieter, 7. CJ
Stander, 6. Derick Kuun (captain), 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3.
Werner Kruger, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Dean Greyling
16. Henry Bantjes, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Fudge Mabeta, 19. Okkie Kruger, 20.
Ruan Snyman, 21. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22. Jaco van der Westhuyzen